CANCER, AGING AND TH

Mandy Caird PhD mandy at DRUID.HSC.COLORADO.EDU
Sun Apr 24 14:27:40 EST 1994


Dear all on the ageing list!

        I recently read an article in U.S. News and World Report on
immortal cancer cells.  The article went on to discuss how cancer cells are
immortal because the produce the Telomerase enzyme which rejuvenates the
Telomeres at the ends of the DNA strands in the cells which prevents the
aging or senecesing of the cells.  The article further discussed how this
may allow researchers to target cancer cells since most human cells no
longer produce Telomerase and are mortal.  It may eventually may lead to a
more specific way of fighting cancer, as opposed to the blunt approach of chemotherapy.

        A side issue dealt with in the article was that almost all cells in
an adult human no longer produce Telomerase and are mortal, with the
exception of certain cells in bone marrow and the male testicles.   Mortal
cells can only reproduce 50 to 100 times before degrading quite rapidly,
whereas the cancer cells can reproduce acurately forever.

        This raised several questions in my mind.  I realize that there is
probably no current yes or no answers to these questions, but your insight
and informed commentary on my questions would be greatly appreciated.  My
questions are as follows:

        1. Is there a direct correlation between human aging (growing old)
           and the shorten of Telomeres thru cellular reproduction in
           normal human mortal cells?


        2. If the enzyme telomerase were introduced into a normal mortal
	human cells could it extend the longevity and quality of a human
           life by repairing chromosomal instability and chromosome damage?
           Perhaps, eliminate death from old age?


        2. a) Would this enzyme treatment only be temporary or permanent,
              and if it is temporary would regular and periodic
              introduction of this enzyme into the cell perform the same
              function as if the Telomerase enzyme were being constantly
              produced within the cell itself?

        3. Would the introduction of the enzyme Telomerase into a mortal
           human cell stabilize the Telomeres at the ends of the DNA
           at their current length or at a shorter or longer length?

        4. Is it feasable to reactivate the dormant chromosome responsible
           for the production of telomerase.

        5. In addition to the potential of Telomerase being able   to
	immortalize human mortal cells allowing them to replicate
           their DNA sequences accurately forever, would there be any
           potential side effects that would diminish the possible positive
           benefits from having this enzyme present in human cells?


                                   Thanks!!!

                                   Sincerely,



                                   Carl W. Weaver







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