FWD>Telomere questions

Mike West mwest at geron.com
Thu Apr 11 18:13:07 EST 1996

Mail*Link( SMTP               FWD>Telomere questions

Date: 4/11/96 1:41 AM
From: Kevin Paul Grant
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?  Second, to date, has any method been found that
prevents or significantly slows down the rate of telomere shortening?
It seems to me that the latter might place you in a bit higher risk of
cancer than otherwise though.

Some recent reviews would be:
"Time, telomeres and tumours: Is cellular senescence more than an anticancer
mechanism?"  Trends in Cell Biology 5: 293-297.
"Telomeres and Aging: Fact, Fancy, and the Future"  J. NIH Research Feb 22,
also, Michael Fossel recently wrote a popular book on the subject of telomeres
called "Reversing Human Aging" William Morrow & Co, 1996.
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?

One cell type probably is for sure, that is the reproductive cells in the
testes.  Sperm telomere length is very long and does not appear to shorten
with age.  This is consistent with the old idea that the species continues
from generation to generation because the germ line (reproductive cells) don't
share some properties of the rest of the cells in our body that age. 
Nevertheless, as you say, we don't get lots of testicular cancer, so as you
point out, telomerase may be necessary for many cancers, but it may not be

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To: ageing at net.bio.net
From: grant at bit.csc.lsu.edu (Kevin Paul Grant)
Subject: Telomere questions
Date: 11 Apr 1996 07:14:12 GMT
Message-ID: <4kibg4$kp2 at sp115.ocs.lsu.edu>
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