[IWAR] BIO cell life extension

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Thu Jan 15 1998 - 10:54:54 PST

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    This has long-term societal implications, one of those breakthroughs
    that if carried forward will radically change the political economy.
       Tuesday January 13 6:30 PM EST 
    Human Cell Lifespan Extended
       NEW YORK (Reuters) -- For the first time, researchers have confirmed
       that the "clock" thought to control aging in human cells does indeed
       dictate that process. What's more, they have found a way to circumvent
       the process -- extending the lifespan of normal, healthy human cells,
       according to a report in Science.
       The finding has "profound" implications for the study of cancer, which
       may use the same process to escape the aging process, according to an
       editorial accompanying the study.
       And it may lead to treatment for human disease caused by worn out cells,
       such as macular degeneration -- the leading cause of blindness in those
       over 65.
       "This research raises the possibility that we could take a patient's own
       cells, rejuvenate them, then modify the cells as needed and give them
       back to the patient to treat a variety of genetic and other diseases,"
       said senior investigator Dr. Woodring E. Wright in a statement released
       by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "The
       potential long-term applications are simply staggering," said Wright, a
       professor of cell biology and neuroscience. The study was a
       collaborative effort involving researchers at the medical center and at
       Geron Corp., in Menlo Park, California.
       Most cells will divide roughly 50 times in the laboratory before
       entering a resting state known as senescence, a process that also occurs
       in the body. For more than a decade, researchers have suspected that
       telomeres, sections of DNA at the tips of chromosomes, control that
       Like minutes ticking on a clock, a piece of telomere is lost each time
       the cell divides. But some cells contain an enzyme, called telomerase,
       that can re-build the telomere after cell division.
       In the new study, the gene for telomerase was inserted inside three
       types of cells that don't normally carry the enzyme -- retinal pigment
       epithelial cells, foreskin fibroblasts, and the vascular endothelial
       cells -- or those lining blood vessels. In contrast with cultured cells
       that have telomere shortening, the genetically engineered cells
       continued to vigorously divide and have long telomeres.
       The treated cell population doubled at least 20 more times than normal
       and continues to grow, according to the report. The new findings confirm
       that telomeres are the "clock" that keeps cells from growing out of
       control, according to an editorial by Titia de Lange, of the Laboratory
       for Cell Biology and Genetics at The Rockefeller University in New York.
       And that mechanism has all "the makings of a powerful tumor suppressor
       system," de Lange wrote.
       "The results should strengthen the determination of those who are
       searching for telomerase inhibitors as potential anti-cancer agents."
       SOURCE: Science (1998;279:349-352, 334-335)

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