Telomere questions

Jean-Pierre Issa jpissa at
Thu Apr 11 16:50:50 EST 1996

grant at (Kevin Paul Grant) wrote:

>Admittedly it is far too early to peg telomere shortening (loss?  I don't
>know the proper terminology here) as the cause of ageing, but from what
>I read on the net there would seem to be a strong connection.  Two
>questions come to my mind.  First, is there some material that a
>person like myself (not a biology major) can read and understand on
>the subject?

Check recent issues of Scientific American. I saw a reference to a
review there by Dr. Greider et al.

> Second, to date, has any method been found that
>prevents or significantly slows down the rate of telomere shortening?

None published !

>It seems to me that the latter might place you in a bit higher risk of
>cancer than otherwise though.

Maybe. But don't tell that to drug companies...

>Recently I saw a TV interview in which some Ph.D. or other said that
>many cells in the human body were effectlively immortal.  Do these
>cells (if this is true) achieve this via prevention of telomere
>shortening, and if so (and this is the big question here) do these
>kinds of cells show a greater tendency to go cancerous than other
>types of cells?  If not, what prevents this?

It is true, some Stem Cells (the cells responsible for regularly
replacing and renewing most human tissues) may be immortal. The
telomerase connection there is under investigation (see the premature
aging thread in this newsgroup). Some people believe that all cancers
arise from stem cells. This, however, is fairly controversial...
>All of this assumes that my questions are not so off base as to make
>no sense at all...

Makes a lot of sense to me...

Jean-Pierre Issa

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