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Name: Nitish
Status: Student
Grade:  9-12
Location: CA
Country: United States
Date: April 2006


Question:
I have been reading about telomeres and there affect on cellular aging, I was wondering if there is any corelation, between cellular and organism aging? If we can make normal cells immortal with the help of telomerase, would we be able to extend the human lifespan?



Replies:
Insufficient telomere extension is probably not the only cause of aging. Somatic mutation accumulation is another possible cause of aging along with oxidation of critical enzymes and proteins caused by free radicals such as O (atomic oxygen) produced during normal cellular metabolism.

Ron Baker, Ph.D.


Changes in telomere structure are only correlated with aging and whether telomeres are causative is uncertain. My bet is they only play a side role and are not a possible "fountain of youth"...biological systems are far too complex. There is a correlation between cellular and organismal aging but this is difficult to assess...there is a strong correlation between total caloric intake and life span for example and some think this is related to oxidizing agents in food...seems a stretch to me. Evolution's entire system is based on succession of generations, so to think there is a simple set of variables that could interrupt this seems highly unlikely.

pf


Maybe. But cancer cells also have telomerase-it is part of what makes them immortal. Scientists need to know more about how telomerase works before they test this on humans.

vanhoeck



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