Scientists Search for “Immortal” Cell, Elixir of Youth


via Telegraph UK

Researchers believe boosting the amount of a naturally forming enzyme in the body could prevent cells dying and so lead to extended, healthier, lifespans..

The protein telomerase helps maintain the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes which act like the ends of shoelaces and stop them unravelling.

As we age, and our cells divide, these caps become frayed and shorter and eventually are so damaged that the cell dies. Scientists believe boosting our natural levels of telomerase could rejuvenate them.

A team at the Spanish National Cancer Centre in Madrid tested the theory on mice and found that those genetically engineered to produce 10 times the normal levels of telomerase lived 50 per cent longer than normal.

Maria Blasco, who led the research, told the New Scientist said that the enzyme was capable of turning “a normal, mortal cell into an immortal cell”.

She added that she was optimistic that a similar approach may eventually lead to extended human lifespans – though she urged caution.

“You can delay the ageing of mice and increase their lifespan,” she said.

“(But)I think it is very hard to extrapolate data from mouse ageing to human ageing.”

One of the problems with boosting telomerase is that it can increase the risk of cancer.

Dr Blasco said this could be overcome by also issuing cancer drugs that could offset the negative affects.

She said that the mice with the boosted enzyme also saw other health benefits – often associated with youth such as less subcutaneous fat and better glucose tolerance.

2 thoughts on “Scientists Search for “Immortal” Cell, Elixir of Youth

  1. Not true about increasing population automatically leading to scarcity, technological advancement has always allowed us to stay ahead of the curve, using that and advances in productivity, and finding substitute goods for those that do become scarce, should allow us to keep growing in population. Plus as we become more affluent, population typically slows to around 1% growth in these countries. Lately there has been a trend of other emerging market countries catching up with the 1st world countries, so population growth rates should slow naturally. Study the economic theories of Julian Simon for more in depth look at this. The more the merrier. A bonus would be that we could keep our best and brightest around longer which could contribute to the common good, art etc. People would still die from other diseases, accidents wars etc at a rate that could still allow us to stay ahead of the curve.

  2. Well of course this would be a double-edged sword. If more and more people start taking doses of this though, the population will keep growing with less people dying, eventually oversaturating the planet.

    Vacation to Mars!

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