Re: Telomeres

From: phil osborn (
Date: Sun Apr 30 2000 - 00:37:50 MDT

>From: "Robert J. Bradbury" <>>Subject: Re: Telomeres
>Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 14:04:43 -0700 (PDT)
>Telomere length is fundamentally an anti-cancer control mechanism.
>When you see someone discussing telomere length in whales and
>elephants, that will be something to write about (since it may
>answer the question of whether they have similar anti-cancer
>programs or different programs that we can steal).
>Even when we fully understand telomeres and telomerase, and how
>to regulate them, that will not be a "magic bullet" for aging
>since it does not solve the problems of aging in non-dividing cells,
>cell loss with age, accumulated DNA damage, etc, etc.

Ah, curious as to when it was realized - the link between telomeres and
cancer?? I figured it out in 1980 at the Life Extension conference held at
the Disneyland Hotel, as I best recall. A Chinese-American researcher had
discovered that Cancer cells were not subject to the Hayflick limit. The
instant I heard that, my next thought was - "Oh, so the Hayflick limit is
the natural control of cancer. That's why children's cancers are so

Unfortunately, like W. Donner Denkla's work, anything that purported to show
an aging clock was discounted by the life extension "authorities" of the
time, who had already "proven" that such a clock was of no use, as very few
animals ever reached their natural aging limit in the wild anyway. Also,
they argued that selection operated solely upon individuals. Thus, they
utterly failed to grasp Denkla's arguments.

Rather that simply railing against the closed-mindedness of people who are
mostly very old or dead now, I bring this up to make a point. The key
element missing in the catalog of mental operations of most of the older
generation - those now older than 60 - was the ability to think in terms of
systems - complex feedback and control mechanisms.

Taking a page from Papert's Mindstorms, those of us who were lucky enough to
work with real models of such - mainly computers - have no trouble at all
thinking in terms of systemic variables, but face a frustrating blank wall
of uncomprehension in trying to convey our insights to those who have no
such concrete, experiential models in their minds.

Certain questions naturally follow: What are we missing that the next
generation can see naturally? How much will this blindness damage our
efforts as extropians? How can we prevent or offset this kind of problem?
I suspect that aging research lost a decade or two due to the failure to
look seriously enough at the aging clock issue. A lot of us will not make
it because of that loss.
Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:09:58 MDT