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Aging, The Molecular Concepts

3.6. TELOMERASE AS A PRODUCT TO EXTEND CELL LIFESPAN

Our finding that cellular aging can be bypassed or put on hold by the introduction of the telomerase catalytic reverse transcriptase cDNA is potentially very important from a basic research point of view. In addition, the medical implications of introducing telomerase into normal cells are profound (Table 3.IV). This technology could allow a patient's own cells to be removed, manipulated and rejuvenated without using up their lifespan, and then returned to the patient. The prospect that manipulating telomere length may change the rate of cellular aging and affect the degenerative diseases of aging is truly an exciting possibility.

TABLE 3.IV
Potential utility of introduced telomerase into normal cells
• Bone marrow transplants (hematopoietic stem cells)
• Skin grafts for burn patients (keratinocyte stem cells)
• Muscular dystrophy (satellite cells)
• General immunity (AIDs)
• Aging skin (fibroblasts)
• Cardiovascular disease (endothelial cells)
• Macular degeneration (retinal cells)
• Basic research and production of human products

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