Saturday, November 29, 2008

Telomerase takes us a step closer to eternal youth - 19 November 2008 - New Scientist

Enzyme takes us a step closer to eternal youth - 19 November 2008 - New Scientist: "One of the latest studies confirms that at least one type of human cell can indeed be restored to a youthful state by boosting telomerase levels. The other suggests that boosting telomerase can result in longer life in animals... turned to a drug called TAT2, developed by Geron of Menlo Park, California, that boosts telomerase production without altering anyone's DNA. When killer T-cells from people with HIV were exposed to TAT2, it enhanced the cells' ability to fight the virus, suggesting that TAT2 might be used to supplement existing anti-retroviral drugs by boosting the immune systems of people with HIV...TAT2 also increased the cells' ability to divide and stopped their telomeres from shortening, which raises the possibility that it might be used to wind back the clock of other ageing cells and provide more general treatments for ageing...when TAT2 was added to tumour cells it did not affect the amount of telomerase they produced. Nor did it change the growth characteristics of immune cells that were cultured with a virus that can trigger cancer. "We are fairly confident at this point that TAT2 won't enhance cancer development,"...Telomerase is extracted from the Astragalus plant, which is used in Chinese medicine without any obvious adverse effects...Blasco's team bred mice engineered to be resistant to cancer with mice engineered to produce 10 times the normal levels of telomerase in epithelial tissue, which lines the cavities and surfaces of the body. These animals lived up to 50 per cent longer than normal mice...Blasco's mice also had less subcutaneous fat, healthier epithelial tissue and improved neuromuscular coordination and glucose tolerance, which are all signs of youth. Boosting telomerase also seemed to have beneficial effects on the animals' brains and muscles, even though the enzyme was not expressed in these tissues..."

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