Telomere extension turns back aging clock in cultured human cells, study finds

Feb 1, 2015

Credit: © gitanna / Fotolia

By Science Daily

A new procedure can quickly and efficiently increase the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are linked to aging and disease, according to scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Treated cells behave as if they are much younger than untreated cells, multiplying with abandon in the laboratory dish rather than stagnating or dying.

The procedure, which involves the use of a modified type of RNA, will improve the ability of researchers to generate large numbers of cells for study or drug development, the scientists say. Skin cells with telomeres lengthened by the procedure were able to divide up to 40 more times than untreated cells. The research may point to new ways to treat diseases caused by shortened telomeres.

Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes, which house our genomes. In young humans, telomeres are about 8,000-10,000 nucleotides long. They shorten with each cell division, however, and when they reach a critical length the cell stops dividing or dies. This internal “clock” makes it difficult to keep most cells growing in a laboratory for more than a few cell doublings.


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10 comments on “Telomere extension turns back aging clock in cultured human cells, study finds

  • It seems to me that this is a patching process, since, at the present time at least, it only lasts for a short period.

    Which brings me on to the point I was going to make before I saw your comment, that not for the first time, this is an article with a somewhat misleading headline.

    My daughter is a Biophysics Research Assistant at Oxford, so I’ll have to ask her about this; not that I’ll necessarily understand what she tells me.



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  • @OP – Treated cells behave as if they are much younger than untreated cells, multiplying with abandon in the laboratory dish rather than stagnating or dying.

    That has a certain resemblance to cancer cells.



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  • I can assure you that just because cells proliferate do not mean they are anywhere close to cancerous.

    In fact the study of telomere’s could most likely eradicate cancer in the far distance future due to the prevention of mutations caused by the DNA replication process.



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  • So when the ageing 1% start to embrace science will the downside be a 130 yr old Pat Robertson or Sheldon Adelson?

    Fortunately the two examples I used are probably too old to benefit by the time the research is done, but the next generations of them and their like are always coming along.



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  • Logan Feb 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    I can assure you that just because cells proliferate do not mean they are anywhere close to cancerous.

    In fact the study of telomere’s could most likely eradicate cancer in the far distance future due to the prevention of mutations caused by the DNA replication process.

    There are pointers going both ways.

    http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/genetics-aging-our-genes/what-happens-when-dna-becomes-damaged
    Telomeres shorten each time a cell divides. In most cells, the telomeres eventually reach a critical length when the cells stop proliferating and become senescent.

    But, in certain cells, like sperm and egg cells, the enzyme telomerase restores telomeres to the ends of chromosomes. This telomere lengthening insures that the cells can continue to safely divide and multiply. Investigators have shown that telomerase is activated in most immortal cancer cells, since telomeres do not shorten when cancer cells divide.



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  • If there’s comes to pass, what you will see is a price put on it, that puts it out of the reach for all except the most rich. By then our lack of inheritance taxes will have assured that we will have a small group of king and queen like people, that passes their wealth and power onto their children like princesses and princes, they will be the only ones that will have access to it, not only will it be their ignorant children that will have all the power over us, they will live to be a couple hundred years old.



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  • perhaps you could start working for yourself or at least work for others but enjoy what you do. it’s not like someone has a gun to your head making you work for someone you don’t want. even if you lose money and go homeless..who cares? as long as you are prepared to pay the price, you can do anything.



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