open/stable life

Alex Tseng (
Tue, 13 Jan 1998 18:23:29 -0800 (PST)

Enzyme provides ``fountain of youth'' for cells
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. scientists said Tuesday they had been
able to make human cells live longer by tinkering with their
genetic material, providing a ``fountain of youth'' for
aging cells.
News of the technology sent shares in California-based
biotechnology group Geron Corp. up and raised hopes of new ways
to treat diseases such as cancer.
``This research raises the possibility that we could take a
patient's own cells, rejuvenate them, then modify the cells as
needed and give them back to the patient to treat a variety of
genetic and other diseases,'' Dr. Woodring Wright, a professor
of cell biology at the University of Texas in Dallas, said in a
Wright and colleagues at the university's Southwestern
Medical Center, who worked with Geron, used an enzyme known as
telomerase. Produced by germ cells such as eggs and sperm, it
affects the ends of the chromosomes, or telomeres, which carry
the genes.
Normal cells do not produce telomerase. Every time a cell
divides it loses a little bit of the telomere on either end of
the chromosome. Wright's team found a way to make the telomeres
grow back using the enzyme.
``Each time a cell divides its telomeres get shorter and
shorter and shorter,'' Wright said in a telephone interview. His
team proved last year this loss was associated with aging.
Now, they said, they proved you can stop the aging process,
at least on a cellular level.
``Unequivocally I would say this would not allow you to live
forever,'' Wright said. ``This is not going to be a pill that
allows you to live longer any time soon.''
He said the the natural process that kills off cells was
just one component of aging. ``It's possible that just like when
you have a car and at 80,000 miles you replace the engine -- you
haven't made that car immortal. On average the car is going to
run longer but then the transmission is going to go out or the
brakes or something else.''
But the finding could help individual cells live much
longer. ``There will be many important immediate medical
applications and biotechnology applications and marvelous
research applications,'' Wright said.
'`Over time we hope this will have significant effects on
the health span and eventually on lifespan.''
Wright's team used skin cells, cells from the retina in the
eye and skins from inside arteries. All were able to grow back
their telomeres and did not, as normal cells do, eventually stop
dividing and die.
``They are still dividing,'' Wright said.
This meant there could be very quick treatments for macular
degeneration, a very common cause of blindness, for skin damage
caused by burns and for atherosclerosis, the furring up of the
arteries that causes heart disease.
'`I think the medical implications of this work are really
profound,'' agreed Dr. Jerry Shay, who worked with Wright. ``It
will allow us now to take a person's own cells, manipulate and
rejuvenate them without using up their own lifespan, and then
re-inject them.''
In other words, it could be the break that gene therapists
have been looking for.
``In terms of the use of human cells, it will totally
transform genetic engineering,'' Wright said.
Gene therapy involves taking the cells of a person with a
genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis, inserting the healthy
gene and then putting the cells back in the patient in the hope
that the manipulated cells will take over.
But the engineered cells are old by the time the scientists
are through with them and often die off before they can do much
good. Wright hopes the telomerase process can make the cells
immortal and make them work better.
There are also implications for cancer. Several mutations
are needed for a cell to become cancerous, and one of them is
turning back on the telomerase gene. Perhaps turning it off
could help cure cancer patients without harming their healthy
body cells, Wright said.

Another piece of 'great' news
if they are going to ban cloning , well live long enough so
that the prevailing wisdom changes .... hee hee .
Seriously, if the telomerase process can be somehow implanted
back or incorporated genetically from the start of conception of
a new living organism ... hey hey hey
At least , aging has been show to be overcomed on a cellular
level , how much more work , do you guys see needs to be done ?
Alex Tseng
There always ways around these little problems
esp Human Goverments ... replacement Posthuman Jupiter Brains
prehaps !!! Open/Stable Life in an Open/Stable Universe

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime;
therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing true or beautiful or good makes sense in any immediate
historical context; therefore we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone;
therefore we are saved by love.
:-)= galaxy brain * :-) = saturn brain
The value of a man should be seen in what he gives
and not in what he is able to receive.
--Albert Einstein

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