X-Message-Number: 10991
From: "John Clark" <>
Subject: Immortal Cells
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 12:58:52 -0500

Hash: SHA1

The journal Nature has an update from two teams working for the Geron
Corporation about their efforts to make human cells immortal. Both teams used
genetic engineering to make sure the telomere, the cap at the very end of

chromosomes, did not shorten when the cells divided. One team reports cells have
now divided 200 times and still seem healthy. Another team used slightly
different methods and they say things still look good after 280 divisions.
Normally cells die after about 50 divisions. Except for their longevity no
abnormalities have yet been found in either cell line, still no sign of cancer.

Nevertheless because of safety concerns Geron's chief science officer Calvin
Harley says the company's goal is to develop drugs to switch on the cells
telomere repair mechanism just long enough to restore the telomere to it's
youthful length and then turn it off again. When asked if the company has found
anything like that yet all Dr. Harley will say is "we have some data".

  John K Clark     

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