Peptide Primer: Thymosin Beta 4 Your Healing Booster

May 28, 2019

ReferencesNIH Grant Home,J. Investigative DermatologyScience DirectWikipedia,

If you haven't heard of Thymosin Beta 4, don't sweat it. No one else has either. So here goes. It was the second peptide isolated from Thymus extracts so got called Thymosin beta 4. Then it was found everywhere else, particularly in platelets. Considering that platelets are the very first things to plug up a wound, having a lot in platelets lends credence to the idea that TB4 plays a big role in healing. It does. It appears to play a key function in helping the molecules that make your internal cellular scaffolding called actin molecules to line up and bond together in chains. That's one of the key steps of a cell repairing its inner architecture, or multiplying, or differentiating. TB4 isn't just tissue repair though, as it demonstrates activity in a variety of venues that haven't been fully sorted out. Yet. So, we’ve got stuff to learn. But bottom line, it's not from the thymus gland. It’s everywhere. It can promote migration of cells, formation of blood vessels, maturation of stem cells, survival of various cell types and lowering of the production of inflammatory cytokines. Wow. It does everything attached to repairing injury and helping new growth! So what if we kill the gene off that codes for it in lab rats. What happens? Nothing we can tell. They look normal. Go figure. More mysteries to unpack. 

It is a bit larger than many active peptides at 43 amino acids long. And it may not be a final step. If you chop off the end 4 amino acids, you get a potent peptide that inhibits blood cell formation. The intertwining of peptide functions in multiple layers makes for their complexity and potential potency. 

How can TB4 be used? Well, there is a lot of excitement around its utility in dry eyes. One of the most frequent autoimmune conditions in women, dry eyes are a terrible scourge. Can you imagine a drop that had no side effects? How about regeneration after a heartattack? Want new blood vessels growing in bringing in new muscle stem cells? It shows promise in healing the plaques of multiple sclerosis. In Europea company has been granted a patent to use TB4 in MS for just that purpose. 

How about just plain old wounds? Cuts? Surgery? Burns?In a rat study using 8 mm full-thickness punch wounds of the skin, Tβ4 at 5 μg/50 μL was found to accelerate wound closure, increase angiogenesis, and accelerate collagen deposition. One surgeon now claims that he uses it with every surgery, on everyone.

What's a curious person to do? Hmmm. Learn first. TB4 may soon find itself in cream for you to put on topical wounds. It may emerge as part and parcel of surgery. It may play a role in heart attack recovery. If I had dry eyes, I'd be all over it. It's a natural compound that was part of your ecosystem when you were young. But do we have impressive, randomized trials to prove it? How much do you need to do when there are no side effects? Do we need to study it, or simply replace it. You had it when you were young.

WWW: What will work for me. I'm going to give myself the stuff and see if I feel anything different. It's cheap. And has no side effects, well yet. I'm three days in and haven't felt anything worse.

Pop Quiz: 

  1. Thymosin Beta 4 is found primarily in the thymus gland extracts. T or F. Answer: False. It is there and was discovered there, but it is all over your body, particularly in platelets.
  2. Its key role appears to be in helping rebuild broken down cells, or regenerating cells by doing what? Answer: Glueing together the building blocks of a cell's internal scaffolding called actin. You gotta put together the ladders, the footings, and scaffolding before you can rebuild a wounded cell, or grow a new cell. That's what a general contractor does. That's what thymosin beta 4 does.
  3. Can you name one clinical condition thymosin beta four has been successfully used in? Answer: dry eyes
  4. If it is good for wound healing, where else might it be useful? Answer: a voluntary wound called surgery might be just the ticket. Want to get better, faster?
  5. We have to be careful with TB4 as we don't have randomized, placebo-controlled science to prove that it works. T or F. Answer: T. But there is always a huge debate about how much you have to explore on compounds that were always there, part of your natural landscape that fades with age, and have no discernible side-effects. There's the rub. Do we need to have it around for years to prove lack of long term side effects?