Salk Institute researchers have discovered an on/off switch mechanism of how immortal cells maintain their ability to divide and regenerate cell population.
Our bodies are composed to various types of cells that are constantly dividing to replenishing dying cells. Millions of your red blood cells die each day and your body needs to produce that same amount of red blood cells in order to maintain a healthy circulatory system.
We age because some cells can no longer divide. The internal clock mechanism behind process is the shortening of the cell’s DNA. Each time a cell divides small segments of DNA is lost at the end of each strand. To ensure that no genetic information is lost, there are non-coding DNA at the end of strands known as telomeres. Once the telomeres reach a certain length, the cell stops dividing and becomes senescent.
Some cells are able to divide indefinitely because of an enzyme known as telomerase. This enzyme synthesises and attaches more telomeres to the chromosomes and allow the cell to continue dividing.
Researchers at the Salk Institute have found that telomerase is only available when it is needed and discovered it essentially has an off switch.
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Well, well. Immortality is on the horizon. Just in time for me to miss it.
An art installation of green plants growing on the wall of the building next to the CaixaForum Madrid — a modern art gallery — In Madrid, Spain. The living wall was created by french botanist Patrick Blanc