|Stanford scientists have announced a method to extend cellular telomeres by a thousand nucleotides. This is significant in reversing aging as the reason why cells eventually stop dividing is the loss of sufficient telomeres. Scientists extend telomeres to slow cell aging reports:
Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new procedure that uses modified messenger RNA to quickly and efficiently increase the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are associated with aging and disease.
Treated cells behave as if they are much younger than untreated cells, multiplying with abandon in the laboratory dish rather than stagnating or dying. Skin cells with telomeres lengthened by the procedure were able to divide up to 40 more times than untreated cells.
The procedure will improve the ability of researchers to generate large numbers of cells for study or drug development and may lead to preventing or treating diseases of aging, the scientists say.
Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of 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. Turning back the internal clock' "Now we have found a way to lengthen human telomeres by as much as 1,000 nucleotides, turning back the internal clock in these cells by the equivalent of many years of human life," said Helen Blau, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford and director of the university's Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology. "This greatly increases the number of cells available for studies such as drug testing or disease modeling."