Next in our Peptide Series, we take a look at a new peptide: Thymosin Alpha 1. We call it The Immune System Peptide. Thymosin Alpha 1 has incredible effects on strengthening the immune system. Like other peptides, it can provide a novel remedy to health issues. It is especially good for immune weakness, certain diseases and other issues related to the immune system. Please read on for the details!
** Please note: If you want the short summary version of this article with a video, then please click here **
What Is Thymosin Alpha 1?
At this point everyone is pretty clear on the importance of our immune system. Our immune system obviously helps with basic things like the prevention of viral and bacterial infections such as common colds and the flu. There are many different ways that we can support our immune system and today’s focus is on research that many people do not know about yet. Let's talk about Thymosin Alpha 1: a peptide. Please click on our blog on peptide therapy and click on our blogs on the specific peptides HGH, CJC/ Ipamorelin, BPC 157 and PT 141.
As a peptide, Thymosin Alpha 1 (Ta1) is made up of a chain of amino acids. Thymosin Alpha 1 is in fact a chain of 28 amino acids (Dominari A, 2020).
Ta1 is made in the thymus (Dominari A, 2020). The thymus is an organ of the immune system. It makes white blood cells called T cells, which are an important part of the immune system. They help to fight infection.
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The synthetic form of Thymosin Alpha 1 is called Thymalfasin (Dominari A, 2020). As a chemically made peptide drug, it has been marketed for more than 20 years under the trade name Zadaxin (Binder U, 2021). Zadaxin is approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B and C (Binder U, 2021) and to enhance immunity to fight other diseases (Dominari A, 2020).
Extensive research has shown its effective use in diseases ranging from hepatitis, HIV to immune deficiencies and cancers (Dominari A, 2020).
It modulates and normalizes T-lymphocyte (or T cells) numbers and function (Dominari A, 2020). It can restore immune system balance in different physiological conditions (infections, cancer, immunodeficiency, vaccination and aging) (Dominari A, 2020).
Interestingly, low serum Ta1 levels can predict or are associated with different disease conditions (Pica F, 2018). There is evidence that diseases characterized by deregulation of immune and/or inflammatory responses are associated with low serum levels of Ta1 (Pica F, 2018). This confirms the role of Ta1 as a regulator of immunity, tolerance and inflammation (Pica F, 2018).
What Can Thymosin Alpha 1 Do?
Thymosin Alpha 1 increases the immune response (Dominari A, 2020). This is useful in immune deficiency conditions, aging and other diseases. It increases the body’s response to vaccines and decreases chemotherapy-induced toxicity (Dominari A, 2020). It has been used in the fight against many infections, such as HIV, chronic hepatitis B and C, primary immuno-deficiency diseases, depressed responses to immunization, cancers, pseudomonas (a type of bacterial infection), mold toxicity, sepsis, and recently in severely ill Covid-19 patients (Dominari A, 2020) and (Aronson, 2016).
Thymosin Alpha 1 stimulates stem cells and aids in the production of new immune cells. Once it helps activate the immune system, it then helps kill bacteria, fungal, viral infections and tumor cells (Aronson, 2016). This means that it can enhance immune function, help prevent infections such as the common cold or the flu and help fight acute or chronic infections (Aronson, 2016).
It also reduces inflammation in the body, as a mediator of the immune (and inflammation) response of the immune system (Aronson, 2016).
Ta1 has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties which can help against bacteria, fungi and viruses (Aronson, 2016). It can inhibit viral replication. This property makes it extremely useful in treating infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, which are viral, in addition to sepsis and pseudomonas, which are bacterial infections.
Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by infection, usually bacterial (Pei F, 2018). Boosting the immune system response can help to eliminate systemic sepsis infection and restore organ function. Ta1, as an immune modulator, can help to activate and restore the dysregulated immune response for patients with sepsis (Pei F, 2018). In a single or combined treatment, it was found that Ta1 reduced the mortality rate of sepsis and reduced the risk of a secondary infection (Pei F, 2018).
Research is, of course, being done on understanding Coronavirus or Covid-19 and the immune system to find a treatment. Covid-19 is a virus. Thymosin Alpha 1 is being researched to see whether it can help to decrease mortality and improve outcomes in severely ill Covid-19 patients (Dominari A, 2020). In people with a Covid-19 infection, it has been shown to reduce mortality in those with severe disease and help restore some immune function through increasing activity in the thymus (Dominari A, 2020). Thymalfasin (the synthetic version of Ta1) has been used in China for general treatment of Covid-19 patients since April 2020 (Dominari A, 2020).
Thymalfasin may benefit the immune dysregulation seen in Covid-19 due to the (SARS-CoV-2) virus- induced cytokine storm (Dominari A, 2020). A cytokine storm becomes immune-suppressive, reducing the ability of the immune system to fight the virus. These immune-suppressive effects of the virus in inducing a cytokine storm may be modulated with Thymosin Alpha 1 therapy (Dominari A, 2020). This would be especially beneficial in preventing a cytokine storm in more severe cases.
Clinical trials are taking place to study the use of Thymosin Alpha 1 to protect against Covid-19. One such trial is being conducted on a vulnerable population of people who have end-stage renal disease, a kidney disease (Inova Health System, 2020). These patients are on a form of dialysis. In addition to their kidney disease and frequent comorbidities, there is concern about their increased risk of exposure to infectious diseases when they are treated several times a week at dialysis centers with other patients and medical staff (Inova Health System, 2020).
It will be interesting to see if and how quickly Thymosin Alpha 1 is adopted as a treatment for Covid-19.
Thymosin Alpha 1 has been valuable in treating cancer patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, renal cell carcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer (Dominari A, 2020). Studies in animals and humans show promising results in different types of cancer, especially when Ta1 is used in combination with other chemo- and immune therapies (Claudio C, 2019).
It can help to suppress tumor growth by eliminating unhealthy cells (including cancer growth) (Aronson, 2016). It protects cells against oxidative stress and damage (Aronson, 2016). Ta1 can help to present antigens at the time of tumor production, which helps the immune response and identification of tumor cells.
Combined treatments of Thymosin Alpha 1 and other drugs are highly effective in restoring the immune response, which can be depressed by tumor growth and/or certain drugs (Garaci E, 2000). When combined with specific chemotherapy, the treatment combo with Ta1 is able to increase the anti-tumor effect of chemotherapy while decreasing the toxicity of chemotherapy treatment (Garaci E, 2000).
The downside in cancer applications is that Ta1’s antitumor activity also acts on normal cells and causes a series of side effects (Peng R, 2020). Modifying Ta1 by using it in combination with other drugs shows better antitumor activity than Ta1 alone does (Peng R, 2020).
How Does Thymosin Alpha 1 Work?
Thymosin Alpha 1 helps to activate, stimulate and regulate various cells of the immune system (Aronson, 2016).
- It helps the secretion of immune-related cells called cytokines (Aronson, 2016).
- It increases the number of activated T helper cells (a type of immune cell) (Binder U, 2021).
- It reduces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in immune cells and upregulates the expression of other immune cells as well as tumor antigens (Binder U, 2021). Basically this means it helps cells not to die.
- Ta1 mediates increased glutathione levels, which inhibits the growth of certain cancer cells, and blocks the assembly of virus particles (Binder U, 2021).
All of these properties mean that Ta1 has a broad range of clinical applications (Binder U, 2021)
Is It Safe to Take Thymosin Alpha 1?
Thymosin Alpha 1 is usually taken twice a week as an injection and is prescribed by a doctor (Dominari A, 2020). Thymalfasin, the synthetic form of Thymosin Alpha 1, is usually well tolerated. The most common side effects include local irritation, redness or discomfort at the site of injection (Dominari A, 2020).
In clinical trials, the combination of Thymalfasin with other drugs can have rare side effects (Dominari A, 2020). Given its immune boosting action, it is not recommended for immune-suppressed patients, such as organ transplant recipients (Dominari A, 2020).
It is very important to work with an experienced Functional Medicine practitioner when taking Thymosin Alpha 1 or any other peptides. Our clinic has extensive experience with peptides and can help you with Thymosin Alpha 1 or other peptides.
** Please stay tuned for our next blog on Peptide Therapy **
As always, please get in touch with us. If you or someone you know is struggling with immune issues, chronic disease or general health issues, contact our clinic today. We can work on any issue(s) and improve your health. Book a free health evaluation call with us today, to see how we can help you with your concerns. We can answer your questions and help you book an initial consult with one of the functional medicine doctors in our clinic.
Dr. Miles Nichols and Dr. Diane Mueller have spoken for the following organizations: