telomerase: the cellular immortalizing enzyme

Telomeres are the tips of a person's chromosomes, and each time cells divide, their telomeres shorten. When the telomeres reach a critically short length, the cells begin to misbehave and eventually die off. This is known as cellular "senescence." It has been hypothesized or demonstrated that telomere shortening is related to various diseases. To find out more about telomerase's applications in fighting disease, you can view this E-brief:

Telomerase Abstracts (PDF)

Included are the following diseases (plus more), and means to pursue your own research and keep up with the latest discoveries:

1. macular degeneration (the source of old-age blindness)

2. Alzheimer's disease

3. arthritis

4. AIDS (some stressed immune cells repeatedly divide to deal with the virus, and their telomeres shorten)

5. atherosclerosis

6. cirrhosis of the liver

7. problems in wound healing (see Geron Corporation's webpage on regeneration and telomerase)

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