immortality as an engineering problem

Excelife excelife at earthlink.net
Sat Jul 18 04:49:24 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 
>> > cells would survive beyond their normal senescence and death.
>> > 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.
>Excelife has cited the Current Biology paper in support of the 
reproducibility of
>Shay's work.  It certainly looks like good corroboration at first glance.  
But what
>is really going on here?

First, Lifeline Labs, user name Excelife, did not cite the referenced 
replication paper by Vaziri,H & Benchimol,S, (Reconstitution of Telemerase 
Activity...Current Biology 1998 Feb.26) That post was by Abrey de Grey of 
Concord University and we thank her for providing us that appropriate 

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.   

>1)  These experiments take months to years to perform, and then take months 
to get
>published.  The Current Biology paper came out one month after the SCIENCE 
>Which means that there is no way that the people from the Current Biology 
>were attempting to reproduce the work done in SCIENCE, since the two groups 
had to
>have been working on the problem simultaneously for quite some time.  So how 
did it
>come to pass that these papers come out one month apart?

Referring to the Virazi-Benchimol study nowehere does it say it is a 
"follow-up" study. Instead, they and several other laboratories are in a 
race, quite similar to the race to find the doule helix, but in this case the 
goal is the key to aging. 

>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).  
>other is that the two groups were working together and planned to publish 
>papers in this fashion , so that both could refer to the other for support. 
>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.

>3)  ... why didn't the Canadian group submit their paper
>to a more respected journal?  No offense to Current Biology, but it is not a
>prestigious journal - and this paper would have been HUGE news.  People 
always try
>to get their paper in the most prestigious journal that will accept it.  It 
>you look better.

As in any scientific competition, those that finish first get published in 
SCIENCE or THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, second place takes what they 
can get and the remainder don't get published at all.

>Don't forget that, because the review and publishing process takes months, 
at the
>time the Canadian group submitted their paper to Current Biology the SCIENCE 
>was not yet out - so it's not like they were relegated to publishing in a
>second-tier journal because the subject was old news.

Your information is incorrect!  In talking with representatives of the 
principals of the experiment, I found out that the Canadian study was 
completed *after* the research by Dr. Shay et.al.

>They should have been
>submitting this paper to SCIENCE, Nature, Cell, or PNAS.  Or maybe they did 
and it
>was rejected.  Something is suspicious here.  They had some reason for 
>to Current Biology.  Either the experiments were poorly done and other 
>would not accept the work, or something was going on behind the scenes.

If a Scientific Journal receives two perfectly valid research papers on the 
same subject the one submitted first is published, as it should be.  Nothing 
suspicious and no conspiracy.

>4)  No one in my lab has ever even HEARD of the Current Biology paper.  Does 
>prove anything?  No.  But it is additional reason to be suspicious.  
Generally when
>a paper is out that should be news, but no one pays attention to it, that is
>because people have decided that the work is junk.

Why would anyone be talking about this paper when the SCIENCE article had 
just received more attention than most other research papers combined?

>> In plain english they have found the cause and the cure for aging.
>He makes this statment, but then goes on to provide a huge list of caveats 
>totally invalidate it.

Delineating lines of research that can compliment or impede the investigation 
of aging via telomeric length merely shows why the research is going to take 
5 to 10 years insted of six months.  It in no way invalidates my conclusion.

>Even if you assume that the SCIENCE paper is true, which is
>a big assummption at this point, no, they haven't found the cause or cure 

Are we to see some scientific reasoning behind this opinion or are we to take 
it on faith?

>At best that have found some interesting ways to help burn victims and
>maybe regrow other organs in the future by increasing the ability of cells 
>replicate.  Aging is much more than this.

Actually burn victims are currently being helped by the growth of their own 
epidermal tissues (beyond the "Hayflick Limit"), via the use of tranforming 
growth factor beta2 but that's for another post.

So as you see it the ability to restore the somatic celled organs of the 
body, including the skin and the vascular systems, back to the capacity they 
had when the body was say 20 years old is all this research has demonstrated 
so far.

Fair enough!

Thomas Mahoney, Pres.
Lifeline Laboratories, Inc.

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