Telomerase and Aging

dkomo at cris.com dkomo at cris.com
Mon Sep 16 11:17:51 EST 1996


Has anyone read the recent book by Michael Fossel, Reversing Human Aging
and formed any opinions about it?

Here ia some background for those who might be interested. The book
explains the recent discovery in molecular biology about the role of
telomeres in causing aging and eventual death of multi-cellular
organisms.  The telomere is the "cap" at both ends of every chromosome in
every cell in our bodies.  The telomere shortens with every cell
division in somatic (body) cells.  When the telomere becomes too short,
cells no longer are able to divide and quickly die. The hypothesis is
that aging is caused by this "molecular clock" eventually forcing enough
of the cells in our bodies to become less robust in dividing or to die
off to the point where the various afflictions of old age begin to set
in.

Two types of cells in our bodies, however, appear to be immortal in that
they continue to divide without limit: germ cells (sperm and egg cells),
and cancer cells.  These cell types have a way of preventing telomere
shortening by finding a way express the enzyme telomerase, which can
maintain and even rebuild the telomeres.

The book expresses the belief that we will be able to find chemicals
called telomerase inducers which can turn on the genes in our cells which
code for telomerase and hence "reset our aging clocks", extending human
life span greatly.  The telomerase inducers may even be able to REVERSE
the effects of aging by restoring the shortened telomeres in our
chromosomes and allowing the respective cells to function as though they
were brand new.

Currently, there is active research in trying to find telomerase
inhibitors that could prevent the runaway growth of cancer cells by
suppressing their production of telomerase.  This kind of research may
give us many clues about telomerase inducers as well.

I'm searching for as much information as I can find about these topics
and would appreciate any input people might have.  The other methods of
life extension being discussed on sci.life-extension are really just
treating the symptoms of aging and not addressing the root bio-molecular
causes.

                                                --dkomo at cris.com




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