immortality as an engineering problem

Excelife excelife at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 17 20:01:34 EST 1998

>> The "distant future" may be closer than you think.  Dr. J.Shay et.al.
>> published a report in SCIENCE Jan 16;279(5349):349-352 showing that by
>> extending the telomeric length at the ends of human chromosomes that those
>> cells would survive beyond their normal senescence and death.
>I've been follwing that, but I'm also a supporter of 
>cryionics research (which, I take it, is what Cryon 
>was getting at). Until we know for sure exactly 
>which approaches are going to have practical 
>applications, it makes sense to support every line 
>of research in which advances are still being made. 
>Besides, even if we get biological immortality via 
>telomere lengthening, I can still think of plenty of 
>uses for cronic prservation!
>> Dr. C. Greider
>> in current biology Vol. 8, No. 5, Feb. 1998 showed that the precursor to 
>> enzyme telomerase, hTERT, can, by acting on the telomeres, cause human 
>> to live beyond their normal senescence and death.
>> In plain english they have found the cause and the cure for aging.
>> There are, of course, a lot of caveats and restrictions like it doesnt 
>> on nerve or other non-reproducing cells and there is still no concrete
>> evidence that cellular aging is directly related to survival of the entire
>> organism, and uncontrolled telomerase activity does lead to cancer but 
>> is nit-picking.
>> Over the next five to ten years this legitimate scientific research is 
>> to extend your life span!
>I've been wondering... is the introduction of 
>hTERT into a cell a one-time operation, or does 
>it eventually "wear out" and have to be re-

An excellent question Jeff and one that deserves exploring.  I don't think 
the published research specifically addressed that question but the fact that 
the cells continued to live beyond their normal senescence would suggest that 
hTERT, a sub-unit of the enzyme telomerase, remained active.

An alternative explanation would be that the "telomerase" was only active for 
sufficient time to add additional telomeres to the chromosomes ,enabling the 
cells to live beyond senescence, and then became inert.

You have, apparently intentionally, hit on one of the keys to the problem.  
If the first case is true then the cell line would be "immortal" and would 
exhibit the uncontrolled growth we normally associate with cancer.

In the latter case you would have a finite growth of the cell line which 
could continue functioning normally.  There would be additional cellular mass 
based on the number of additional reproductions the cell line experienced but 
these cells would eventually lose their telemeric length, enter senescence 
and in due course die.  It would just take a little bit longer!

If extending the life of somatic cells can translate into extended life for 
the entire organism....


Thomas Mahoney, Pres.
Lifeline Laboratories, Inc.

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