Immortal Human Cells

John K Clark (
Thu, 15 Jan 1998 11:13:21 -0800 (PST)


On Thu, 15 Jan 1998 Joao Pedro <> Wrote:

>certain cells that do not divide -- post-mitotic cells like neurons
>might also age.

True. Perhaps neurons age because the support they receive from other cells
that do divide degrades, or perhaps telomere shorting is not the only clock
in every cell, but if one clock can be found so can another.

Damien Broderick:

>My guess is that its [telomerase] production is inactivated in
>somatic cells as a general prophylaxis against cancer. Immortal
>tumors do, indeed, switch telomerase production back on.

Geron also has a patent on a telomerase inhibitor. Except for sperm and eggs
most cells don't produce telomerase (some cells lining the stomach and
intestine produce a little, but not enough to become immortal) so this
inhibitor shouldn't have many side effects, but all known cancers produce
lots of it. Geron has a sensitive method for detecting telomerase and hopes to
use it to diagnose cancer. The company also wants to develop its telomerase
inhibitor into a cancer treatment, if it works it would turn our worst enemy
into a friend, a fast growing cancer would die of old age.

On Tuesday when Geron made the announcement that they had made human cells
immortal its stock jumped up by 44%, does anybody have an opinion about Geron
as an investment?

John K Clark

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