Nobel winners uncover a connection…
The 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine went to three scientists who discovered an enzyme called telomerase that allows cells to divide indefinitely. In general, cells have a limit on the number of times they can divide and over time this causes degradation of organic structures, or aging. In an article published by WIRED Aaron Rowe reveals that the scientists realized that they could persuade cells into producing telomeras.
However, there is a catch.
Currently cells in adults divide roughly 80 times before they die off, which limits susceptibility to cancer. When cells produce telomerase they continue dividing, which eventually leads to a higher probability of developing cancer.
Mark Muller, a cancer and telomerase researcher at the University of Central Florida, stated that “Ninety percent of all cancer cells are telomerase rich.” Further, he posits that telomerase inhibitors could fight cancer itself and allow the cancer cells to essentially die off.
While currently the telomerase enzyme causes a Catch 22 of immortality and cancer, ethical and other pragmatic issues aside, it may be that in the future drugs may be able to combat cancerous cells without attacking all telomerase-rich cells, allowing mankind to achieve immortality in a safe manner.
Ready to rise above mere mortality?