immortality as an engineering problem

James james at nospam.com
Sat Jul 18 06:56:35 EST 1998

> The citation we did make was for DR.Carol Greider (Current Biology 1998,
> 8:R178-R181) wherin she dicusses the role of hTERT, a subunit of human
> telomerase and its effectiveness in allowing cells to live beyond their
> normal senescence. Dr Greider a lead researcher at Cold Springs Harbor
> Laboratory. A Laboratory, I might say, with an impeccable reputation.  Dr.
> Greider herself has been appointed by Presdident Clinton to the National
> Bio-ethics Board. Hardly a likely candidate for the conspiracy theories
> you've concocted.

That's a bit of an inaccurate way to put it.  Did I say that that was what
happened?  Nope.  Is it even likely?  I don't have enough information to
determine that.  What I have done is point out what are, in my mind,
inconcistencies if you assume that Geron's paper is correct.

> >2)  There are a couple possible explanations for the back-to-back
> publication of
> >these papers.  One is coincidence (which strikes me as unlikely - see #3).
> The
> >other is that the two groups were working together and planned to publish
> the
> >papers in this fashion , so that both could refer to the other for support.
>  Is
> >this really what happened?  I have no idea, but it is certainly possible.
> >
> Unsupported inuendo is unlike you James.  As a scientist you usually base
> your opinions on facts not conjecture.

Unsupported?  Well, the papers did come out within a month of each other.  And
Geron has been known to put an overly optimistic spin on their research.  And
they have also been known to withhold information that would have been very
salient to the scientific community, but which would have hurt their stock prices
(for example - long before they told anyone about it they knew that some lines of
cancer cells didn't need telomerase activity to proliferate, but they didn't say
anything because that makes their work along anti-cancer lines seem less likely
to work).  And all the other things I mentioned...

So my statements are not "unsupported" at all.  You can decide you don't like my
evidence - but nonetheless my statements are not unsupported.  And I admit that
it is all as circumstantial as it comes - and I have admitted that at every step
of the way during these posts.  But that doesn't mean that the matters should be
ignored and you should just accept the Geron paper as gospel.  On the contrary, I
think the "scientific" thing to do (since you imply that I am not being so) *IS*
to remain skeptical until further experiments have been conducted.  Isn't
skepticism the general basis for scientific review and debate as we know it?  I'm
not sure why you and Aubrey are so willing to accept this work as legitimate with
further verification (though I do admit that I did not know who Dr. Carol Greider
was, and I think her credentials lend significant weight to this matter in favor
of Geron).  I had been under the impression (because of a comment you made to me
in some private email) that the work had been repeated by a relatively unknown
Canadian lab.

In summary, I still hope that Geron's paper proves correct.  But I do not think
the evidence yet justifies considering the SCIENCE paper to be dogma.  Since
there are a variety of people posting messages to the effect of "Geron has solved
the problem of aging and we'll all be immortal with a little more work" I felt it
my duty to point out possible flaws in these overzealous statements.

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