December 7, 2010 at 1:26 pm #36085
Note by scientist reviewing this stoyr: Newspaper account tends to exaggerate new discoveries. It is certainly an advance here, but a telomerase pill to be taken orally is far from reality. What DePinho did was to knock off the natural telomerase gene in the mouse and replace it with a new one with a chemical switch, 4-OHT. That is gene therapy, and it has been tried in humans for a variety of diseases with very dismal results so far, albeit with a few sporadic cases of success. If I recall correctly a few years back, a celebrated case of gene therapy for cancer ended in death of patients, which could be traced back to the adeno virus vector used in the study. The whole affair quenched the appetite of investors. Research and gene therapy trials are still being done. Good scientists just don’t give up when the basic concept is valid.
Julia Bodeeb Julia Bodeeb Mon Nov 29, 2:38 pm ET
Harvard University’s Doctor Ronald DePinho has conducted a scientific study that has shown that aging can be reversed in mice. Will this result occur also in humans? And, if so, how will it change the process of aging? In addition to his work at Harvard University, DePinho is also a cancer geneticist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
DePinho’s anti-aging study was reported in the journal Nature. His study may prove to be the start of a worldwide ability to change how human beings age. Will he give the gift of longer, healthier lives to people? If so, he will gain fame and a place in history.
Telomerase: Anti-Aging Miracle?
The mice involved in the study were given an enzyme called telomerase, 4-OHT, to reactivate the telomeres in the body. The telomeres are found on the ends of chromosomes and serve to protect the chromosome from damage. As aging occurs, the telomeres get smaller and eventually die off.
The mice that showed signs of reversed aging had larger brains after receiving the enzyme. It also reversed loss of fertility. DePinho noted “It gives us a sense that there’s a point of return for age-associated disorders,” notes Nature.
Will telomerase eventually be a drug known to people worldwide? Is this enzyme the magic cure for aging? DePinho was surprised that this enzyme so completely reversed the aging process, rather than just slowing it down, notes the Daily Mail.
Will Humans Take a Pill to Prevent Aging?
He predicts that eventually a pill containing telomerase will be available for humans. It will reverse the signs of aging that have occurred and bring back a youthful vitality and appearance. The drug could be taken during the 40s or 50s to help impede the onset of serious illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases that occur most commonly in the elderly.
Is Telomerase Linked to Cancer?
However, there are risks to a pill of this type. Telomerase can accelerate tumor growth, so much more research on this enzyme will have to be done to ensure that it does not cause development of cancer. DePinho told Nature that “telomerase should prevent healthy cells from becoming cancerous in the first place by preventing DNA damage.”
Would you like to take a pill to stay forever young, or do you want to age naturally? Science may make major changes in the way humans age and evolve. The implications of that are both exciting and alarming.
Aging is Complex
It will be fascinating to see how further study either proves or disproves the findings of Dr. DePinho regarding the aging process. Many questions still need to be answered. Aging is a complex process with many factors. Many more studies are needed to give conclusive information about the effectiveness and safety of using telomerase to prevent aging.
How Would an Anti-Aging Pill Change Society?
If aging is reversed in the future, how will that change society? It could lower medical costs as people would stay healthier much longer. It could also allow people to have children at older ages and to enjoy stronger sexuality into an elderly age. It could also allow people to work at their careers for much longer.December 8, 2010 at 1:26 am #36086
A documentary has just been screened locally on this. Not sure if you can access the website for the program but it is shown in link below. Program description follows: Interesting that the scientists mention the +/- polarity and at end of program imply that consciousness, meditation has to be involved, ie not mechanical.
Could scientists really have discovered the secret to endless youth? Is there really such a thing as an immortalising enzyme, a chemical catalyst that can keep cells young forever?
A team of scientists, lead by the remarkable Australian-born Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, believe the answer to be yes. In 2009, Elizabeth and her teams discovery of an enzyme deep in the DNA of a single-celled pond creature, the so-called ‘immortalising enzyme’, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
Now, this remarkable enzyme is being harnessed. The molecular clock it controls – the countdown to death in each cell – can be tested, measured and, in some cases, it can even be stopped. Amazingly, middle-aged human cells have been replenished and rejuvenated by triggering this enzyme, becoming, in effect, young again. Many believe that the cure for ageing, has now arrived.
But there is a dark side to this incredible find. The immortalising enzyme is a complex biological riddle, with a paradox at its core. This same enzyme that fuels life, also fuels cancer. Cancer it seems, is the true immortal. It has the ability to replicate endlessly, ignoring instructions to die. And cancer cells have hyperactive levels of this same enzyme. So the key to endless life, is also the key to cancer’s deadly success.
The challenge is now on to find a balance between the power to extend life, and the ability to destroy it.
Featuring Nobel Prize winners and experts in ageing, personal stories and provocative old films, Immortal reveals the inner workings of this biological paradox and its remarkable impact on ageing, disease and cancer. We also discover the role of stress and lifestyle in the ageing process and what steps we can all take, right now, to protect our precious genetic material. For today, around the globe, brilliant minds are busy harnessing this cellular fountain of youth to help us all live longer and healthier lives.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.