Review of ageing

Potter Wickware wick at NETCOM.COM
Wed Jan 11 15:44:01 EST 1995

I just this morning went to a presentation by Geron.  They are not a true 
company in that they don't have a product, and are not close to having 
one.  Nevertheless, they think they are on to something with telomerase 
and telomerase inhibition and believe they can appeal to the financial 
community for support even at this erly stage.  Their principal focus is 
inhibiting the abnormal activity of the enzyme in tumor cells as a 
general therapy for several types of cancers.  The premise is that 
suppressing telomerase would allow cancer cells to die a natural death, 
instead of proliferating endlessly.  They say they have cloned the RNA 
portion of this enzyme complex; the protein portion remains elusive.  

A more distant goal of the company is to modulate the shortening of 
telomeres and thus extend replicative potential of cells thus targeted.  
The focus would be in striatum cells, for example, to prevent the 
premature death of brain cells in Parkinson's disease.  Other 
degenerative diseases, too.  

Their chief scientist is Calvin Harley, from McMaster University (on 
leave).  A paper of his was in the Dec 23 94 Science (Kan et al, Specific 
association of human telomerase activity with immortal cells and cancer.)

Potter Wickware

On 10 Jan 1995, Dr Jim Cummins wrote:

> The Economist (January 7 1995: pp 68-70) has a nice review of current
> ageing research. It covers the evolutionary arguments for ageing and a
> "disposable soma";  artificial alterations of lifespan in Drosophila and C.
> elegans; free radicals and mitochondrial energetics; the Hayflick limit and
> telomerase; progeria and Werner's syndrome, and genetic markers of
> longevity.
> Appparently there's a company called Geron based in Menlo Park  that is
> concentrating on life extending strategies by switching on telomerase in
> somatic cells.  Anybody have any further information?
> Yours, virtually:-
> Jim "Spermatology rules o~ o~ o~ o~" Cummins
> Associate Professor in Veterinary Anatomy
> Murdoch University,
> Murdoch Western Australia 6150
> Tel +61-9-360 2668
> Fax +61-9-310 4144
> E mail cummins at possum.murdoch.edu.au
> "Ignorance is a renewable resource"  PJ O'Rourke.

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