November 11, 2009
Telomere Genes Linked To Longer Life

The tips of chromosomes are known as telomeres and they shrink in size every time a cell divides. Eventually the telomeres become short and interfere with cellular replication. This interference is probably an anti-cancer defense mechanism. At the same time, the shrinking of telomeres probably contributes to aging by reducing the ability of the body to make replacement cells to repair the body as we age. Well, old people with genetic variants that cause longer telomeres have a greater chance of living to age 100.

November 11, 2009 (BRONX, NY) A team led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has found a clear link between living to 100 and inheriting a hyperactive version of an enzyme that rebuilds telomeres the tip ends of chromosomes. The findings appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This is a surprising result because longer telomeres in old age might increase the risk of cancer.

If higher activity in telomere enzymes delays onset of cardiovascular diseases then this suggests that lack of ability to make replacement cells contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease.

More specifically, the researchers found that participants who have lived to a very old age have inherited mutant genes that make their telomerase-making system extra active and able to maintain telomere length more effectively. For the most part, these people were spared age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which cause most deaths among elderly people.

These results suggest to me that the ability to create safe youthful stem cells for implantation in our bodies might slow the aging process. I want lots of replacement cells with few harmful mutations and long telomeres.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 November 11 11:02 PM  Aging Mechanisms

Eric Johnson said at November 12, 2009 2:17 AM:

> This is a surprising result because longer telomeres in old age might increase the risk of cancer.

Yeah... people with that genetic variant might have more centenarians, but might also have a mean lifespan shorter than other people.

drfmd said at November 12, 2009 6:02 AM:

One of the mechanisms of Resveratrol being studied is its effect on the Sirt 1 gene which blocks shortening of telomeres during replication, prolonging the life cycle of cells.

John said at November 12, 2009 6:14 AM:

Possibly centenarians with this genetic variant have also upregulated some other anti-cancer genes.

Lono said at November 12, 2009 8:50 AM:


They must have such a mechanism, right?

Seems that determining that aspect is really the key.

Either way - I fear this may be to little too late for current generations - but might prove useful to one's being born (or cloned) in the near future.

kurt9 said at November 12, 2009 11:44 AM:

There is a start-up company offering a telemerase activation therapy called TA-65.

I haven't a clue if it works or not.

rob said at November 12, 2009 11:51 AM:

A good chunk of what what the immune system does is kill defective cells, whether the defects are caused by infection, point mutation or aneuploidy. Immunocompromised people have higher rates of some cancer. Immune cells need lots of cell generations for good adaptive immunity. GI lining turns over a lot too, longer telomeres might mean better digestion.

A decent first approximation is that people with longer telomeres have better immune systems, precancerous cells are killed off early, infected cells are too, probably lowering inflammation as well as reducing cell turnover in other tissues. In fact, there was a study of mothers of kids with leukemia: they had shorter telomeres than the general pop: the researchers attributed it to stress, for no good reason AFAIK.

Experiments with telomerase-inhibiting drugs didn't help with cancer. I wonder why, but I haven't looked into it at all. Maybe most cancers can kill long before the telomeres run down to nothing?

*I am not a physician. Do not take medical advice from me.

kurt9 said at November 12, 2009 4:16 PM:

The problem I have with this is that I am unconvinced that telomere shortening is a cause of aging. Different tissues divide and replace themselves at different rates. If telomere shortening was a cause of aging, this effect should show up in the tissues with the shortest cellular lifetimes. This is not what we see. Instead, aging seems to appear most in the tissues with the least amount of cellular turnover, like the brains and heart tissue.

Nick Lane, author of "Power, Sex, and Suicide", has made a compelling argument that aging is due exclusively to the break down and build-up of mutant mitochondria, a variant of the mitochondrial free radical theory of aging. I think he is right.

Flash Program said at November 12, 2009 4:19 PM:

"Experiments with telomerase-inhibiting drugs didn't help with cancer. I wonder why, but I haven't looked into it at all. Maybe most cancers can kill long before the telomeres run down to nothing?"

IIRC, there are alternate means of extending telomeres besides telomerase.

Fly said at November 12, 2009 8:37 PM:

Over a lifetime...
Stress causes decreased telomerase activity in hematopoietic stems cells.
Which causes increased telomer shortening as hematopoietic stem cells divide to form lymphocyte precursors.
Which leads to less productive hematopoietic stems cells and more senescent lymphocytes.
Which leads to an immune system which is less effective at eliminating aberrant cells that are precursors of cancer and at eliminating senescent cells that provoke inflammation.
Which leads to more cancer.

Too much telomerase increases cancer by increasing the probability of each cell becoming cancerous.
Too little telomerase increases cancer as the immune system loses its ability to fight cancer.

askdrnina said at September 9, 2010 6:44 PM:

Dr. Bill Andrews, the founder of Sierra Sciences in now collaborating with John Anderson, founder and formulator of Isagenix. They are working together -to identify other natural substances that can activate the telomerase gene. Dr. Andrews not only discovered the telomerase gene, but also discovered TA-65, which he licensed to TA Sciences as an anti-aging therapy. Dr. Andrews has already identified 35 pharmaceutical drugs which increase telomerase to acceptable levels, but each comes with it's share of side effects. Along with John Anderson, he hopes to identify natural substances that can be used as anti aging treatments, which will be licensed exclusively to Isagenix.

Learn more about the partnership here:

To learn more about investing in Isagenix as an owner/distributor, contact me: askdrnina (at)

Dr. Ed Park said at October 28, 2011 10:21 PM:

The advancement into this medical technology has been amazing since this article took place. We have some great insight into this on our website

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