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Thread: Telomeres and Aging?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    LakeRidge Golf Course

    Telomeres and Aging?

    About a year ago my father, who is obsessed with trying to live as long as possible, mentioned a company that was trying to stop the ageing process by studying telomeres. Today, I saw a video where scientists have claimed to have reversed signs of ageing in mice.

    I always thought this was just a bunch of non-sense, but perhaps not. Have you guys heard anything about this?

  2. #2
    lcme's Avatar
    lcme Guest
    I have heard a little bit of the telomere information circling in academic research groups. I’ve always been wary of it as a cure for ageing.

    Essentially every time a cell divides the telomeres shorten a little bit due to the fact that DNA replication can only occur in one direction. When the telomeres shorten too much you begin to lose actual coding information and eventually the cell is no longer viable.

    I do believe that there is some truth to the telomere idea as a marker of cell senescence. It actually marries well with research that shows decreasing caloric intake can increase longevity. If you are eating less and have a slower metabolic rate, then cells will divide at a slower rate and telomeres will shorten slower. It has been shown that cells only have a certain number of cell divisions before they die.

    My only concern is that telomere shortening is very likely a natural phenomenon for a reason. With each additional cell division you increase the likelihood of a replication error, and therefore a cancerous or otherwise dangerous mutation. Telomere shortening may be a way for cells to individually monitor the number of divisions, thereby acting as a natural, yet important, self destruct signal.

    A little bit of wiki
    However, it has been hypothesized that there is a trade-off between cancerous tumor suppression and tissue repair capacity, in that lengthening telomeres might slow aging and in exchange increase vulnerability to cancer (Weinstein and Ciszek, 2002).
    It also seems that telomeres are more susceptible to oxidative stress, which I think is also a protective mechanism. The entire cell would be exposed to the stressor, potentially leading to mutations.
    Last edited by lcme; 11-30-2010 at 12:38 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    St. John's, NL Canada - AND Monterey, CA
    Dr. Blackburn is an expert on telomeres. Stress literally wears them down. She gives a very balanced and informative lecture on telomere length and health/disease here:

  4. #4
    lcme's Avatar
    lcme Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by PhDenial View Post
    Dr. Blackburn is an expert on telomeres. Stress literally wears them down. She gives a very balanced and informative lecture on telomere length and health/disease here:
    ohh. I'll take a look at it after work.

    I'm sure that she addresses it, but I would go so far as to suggest that telomerase is an oncogene, in that it can support the immortality of cancer cells.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Yes, I'm familiar with it.

    Blocking or inhibiting a pleiotrophic substance, generally ends poorly. While it initially appears to have huge benefits, over time it becomes clear that the unintended consequences are too costly.

    Modulators > inhibitors

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