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The journal Nature has an update from two teams working for the Geron Corporation about their efforts to make human cells immortal. Both teams used genetic engineering to make sure the telomere, the cap at the very end of chromosomes, did not shorten when the cells divided. One team reports cells have now divided 200 times and still seem healthy. Another team used slightly different methods and they say things still look good after 280 divisions. Normally cells die after about 50 divisions. Except for their longevity no abnormalities have yet been found in either cell line, still no sign of cancer.
Nevertheless because of safety concerns Geron's chief science officer Calvin Harley says the company's goal is to develop drugs to switch on the cells telomere repair mechanism just long enough to restore the telomere to it's youthful length and then turn it off again. When asked if the company has found anything like that yet all Dr. Harley will say is "we have some data".
John K Clark firstname.lastname@example.org
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