Aging of cells stopped?

lr50916 at lr50916 at
Fri Jan 23 10:07:42 EST 1998

Orlog wrote:
> AJ>Hallo!
> AJ>Last week I heard that researchers found a way to stop the aging of
> AJ>cells and of creatures. Can someone please explain to somebody who
> AJ>is not an expert in this field how aging works and how they have
> AJ>stopped it? Please answer to aj at
> AJ>Andreas John
>        Really? Why is it being kept so quiet?
>                                  Sean
To summarise in simple language, what they have discovered is as
follows: Cells have chromosomes/DNAs. As they replicate, there is always
a small bit at the end (telomeres) that gets shorter over time, because
the ends do not get duplicated. Recently scientists discovered an enzyme
called TElomerase that repairs the ends and adds back nucleotides to the
ends. However, this is not extremely efficient and we still lose bits at
the ends of our chromosomes. And this is what causes the cells to "age"
over a lifetime. (Think of it as a clock winding down). In this study,
the scientists have introduced Telomerase into a cell such that it is
overexpressed, and this causes the chromosomes to never shorten and the
cell is "young" forever. But before you go out and decide to partake of
this fountain of youth, there are a number of caveats to this study. 1.
This observation has been made in a cell line and may not necessarily
work in stopping aging in a whole organism;
2. Introducing higher amounts of telomerase into whole organisms may
most likely have number of other effects. Many cancerous cells have been
shown to express lots of telomerase (which is how the cancerous cells
keep on dividing and staying "alive" forever!)
So hope that explanation serves the purpose.

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