Immortal Human Cells

John K Clark (
Wed, 14 Jan 1998 09:14:32 -0800 (PST)


Reports of the death of the telomerase theory of aging have been greatly
exaggerated. I think this is the biggest news since Dolly, and speaking of
Dolly, there is a very obvious experiment that I'm sure somebody has thought
of and already started.

Take a gene for telomerase production and a gene to turn it on and insert
them into a sheep cell. With present techniques when you insert a gene into a
cell it almost never finds its way to the correct place on the chromosome and
gets expressed properly. It may take millions or billions of attempts before
everything works correctly, but you can put trillions of cells in a test tube
and if you also include a signaling gene for antibiotic resistance or for
the production of a small amount of florescent dye, you can find the one
successful cell out of billions. Then you use that cell to make a clone and
observe if you get a cancerous sheep, an immortal sheep, or no sheep at all.
Whatever the results of this experiment it will give us a profound lesson in
how life works. We live in exciting times.

John K Clark

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