Telomers, telomerase, etc

Joao Pedro (
Fri, 16 Jan 1998 23:12:12 -0800


Damien Broderick wrote:
> `[Lee M.] Silver [of MOUSE GENETICS (OUP 1995) fame] told me that mouse
> researchers have even created mice that do not have [telomerase]. The mice
> seemed healthy... are now up their fourth generation [sans telomerase]...
> yet to find anything wrong...' (p. 205).

Is this true? I once received an e-mail talking about this "mice without
telomerase" but I never had a change to confirm it.

> Also, although genetic manipulation of removed cells is expensive,
> we can usually get a few cells successfully manipulated. Thanks
> to the glories of exponential growth that may be all that's
> required. If rejuvenation also increases response to growth
> factors (probable) then just a few skin cells could eventually
> replace a whole skin via faster reproduction.

True, I mention this in my site. The major problem is the brain. If
neurons do age independant of the glial cells, we have a big problem.
Even if they don't, glial cells would have to be "replaced" very
quickly, if things get out of control in the skin, we have some chances
of controling it again, in the brain we're dead. Also, this "cellular
proliferation theory" must be done very fast. "Corrected" cells might
spread in the body, but it's not an instantaneous process, it takes
time, during that time normal cells are losing activity but still are
alive in the body preventing the "immortal" cells from spreading. If we
don't make a good amount -- I don't know how many, but certainly a lot
more than we're doing now with gene therapy -- of cells immortal, we
might see our heart stop because only 1/3 of the cells are active!
(actually muscle cells are also post-mitotic, so what I'm saying is
impossible, but you get the idea)

See ya,

         Hasta la vista...

"Life's too short to cry, long enough to try." - Kai Hansen Reason's Triumph at: