X-Message-Number: 5592
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 1996 12:19:14 -0400
From:  (Rodney Perkins)
Subject: PATNEWS: Want to live forever?

I received this from the Patent News service on Saturday, January 13, 1996.
Does anyone have more detailed information about "telomeres"?

>Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 08:38:26 -0500
>From:  (Gregory Aharonian)
>Subject: PATNEWS: Want to live forever?
>Precedence: bulk
>!19960111  Want to live forever?
>    What is cancer (at least some cases), but being immortal all at once?
>Immortality or very long lives implies some sort of gradual cell renewal.
>But if it happens too quickly, you get cancer.  For many cells, there is
>a piece of DNA at the end of chromosomes called telomeres.  Each time
>your cells divide, these telomeres shorten slightly.  When they are cut
>down to a certain length, the cell commits the equivalent of suicide.
>Thus part of the reason we all age is that there is at least one clock
>inside our cells that gradually causes cells to stop renewing themselves.
>Some cancer cells however don't experience a shortening of their telomeres,
>and are thus "immortal", and eventually spread into the wrong places of
>the body (much like a weed is a plant in the wrong place).
>    Now while there are many reasons that we age, and our cells die, and
>many reasons why we get cancer, there is an intimate link between cancer,
>aging and our genes.  In fact, one aspect of this link is to treat cancer
>cells with something that causes the telomeres to shorten, forcing the
>suicide of the cancerous cells (without affecting noncancerous cells).
>    However, there is another aspect of this link that is little talked
>about, even in its general implications, that of manipulating the telomeres
>of healthy cells so that they don't shorten, but without causing the cells
>to become cancerous.  Pop a telomere pill, drink a human growth hormone and
>dehydroepiandrosterone chaser, and gain an extra year each year. Sounds great.
>Also sounds science fiction.
>    But increasingly there is becoming no such thing as science fiction,
>which really stinks because I like science fiction.  Such is the case with
>this telomere lengthening concept.
>    A collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin, and a Silicon
>Valley biotech company, Geron Corporation, has three patents pending dealing
>with this very technique.  The PCT applications,
>        WO 95/13381   -   Telomerase activity assays
>        WO 95/13382   -   Therapy and diagnosis of conditions related to
>                              telomere length and/or telomerase activity
>        WO 95/13383   -   Methods and reagants for lengthening telomeres
>the latter of which has the heretical abstract "Method and composition for
>increasing telomere length in normal cells can be used to increase the
>proliferative capacity of cells and to delay the onset of cellular
>senescence".  Just think, you can read my patent news stories for hundreds
>of years :-)
>    Order me a bottle or two.  Unfortunately it is decades away before we
>can goto to a pharmacy and find a real fountain of youth in a bottle.  Thus
>I am not sure of the investment opportunities here.  But patents like these,
>and many more to come in future years attacking other aspects of aging, are
>pushing the envelope, so to speak.  Not only the envelope of science and
>aging, but the envelope of religion.  There is no truce, just a lull until
>the next battle.
>Greg Aharonian
>Internet Patent News Service
>P.O. Box 404, Belmont, MA, 02178
>(for info on free subscription, send 'help' to    )
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Rodney Perkins ()
Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston (TCSUH)
Office of Public Affairs
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