Current Research into Telomeres
excelife at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 31 05:33:25 EST 1998
III CURRENT RESEARCH INTO TELOMERES
A) GERON CORPORATION
Geron Corp., who's research efforts are headed by Dr. Calvin Harley is the
leading commercial research company investigating telomeres. They have
formed collaborations with some of the best researchers and laboratories
involved in this research.
A description of these collaborations gives a good idea of where the research
into telomeres is headed. The following is just a brief overview. A much
more thorough description is given on Gerons web pages at
1) Telomere Biology
Their most publicized collaboration is with Dr J. Shay and Dr. W. Wright at
Texas Southwest Medical Center. Their ground breaking research, (Science
1998 Jan 16;279(5349):349-352), showed that the maintenance of telomeric
length in cells would extend the cells replicative capacity beyond the
expected Hayflick limit in "a phenotypically youthful state".
Continued research into the effects of the enzyme telomerase with its ability
to maintain telomeric length is likely to lead to a greater understanding of
how we can develop a means of intervening in the aging process of replicating
2) Telomerase Inhibition
Much of Gerons research effort is directed toward finding methods to inhibit
the expression of telomerase in cancerous tissue. Since the enzyme
telomerase has been found to be activated in most cancers it is possible that
the tumors could be stopped from growing if the telomerase could be inhibited
from maintaining the telomeres. Geron is collaborating with both the
National Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer
Research, in their search for a means to inhibit telomerase.
3) Telomerase Detection
Geron has developed a "proprietary screening technology" to help identify
molecules that may inhibit telomerase and is collaborating with several
medical institutes and Universities to refine this technology. This same
technology will be important for determining telomerase-telomere interactions
on a molecular basis and perhaps give us a better idea of the kinds of
interventions that are possible.
4) Genomics of Aging
Age related genetic expression, especially in senescent cells, is one of the
keys to developing methods to intervene in the aging process. Geron is
collaborating with the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Stanford University, and
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, to identify those
genes that may be involved in age-related diseases. Their "Enhanced
Differential Display" and "Subtractive Differential Display" technologies
allows the researchers to identify particular genes and their products and
may allow for the development of methods to intervene in these processes.
Their current efforts are directed toward skin aging, atherosclerosis and
5) Primordial Stem Cells
This research, being conducted in association with Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine, The University of Wisconsin at Madison, and The
University of California, San Francisco, is potentially as important as the
research into telomeres themselves. These stem cells are immortalized by the
enzyme telomerase and are completely undifferentiated. They hold out the
possibility that the non-replicating cells like nerves and most muscle cells
can be replaced much as telomeric lengthening allows replicating cells to
continue mitotic reproduction. If these primordial stem cells can be
utilized to maintain the non-replicating cellular systems then every major
hurdle to longevity can be overcome!
Thomas Mahoney, Pres.
Lifeline Laboratories, Inc.
More information about the Cellbiol