You might be getting tired of "if your chromosome telomere caps are shorter you are more likely to die" posts. But every time I come across another research report showing this relationship I think "this shows how much benefit we can get from stem cell therapies". These reports show that the ability to deliver newer stem cells and newer other types of cells into various places in the body would likely increase life expectancy. Cells more able to divide (and shorter telomeres interfere with cell division) are more able to create new cells to do repairs.
BOSTON, MA—No one really wants the short end of the stick, in this case the short end of a chromosome. Telomeres, which are DNA-protein complexes at the ends of chromosomes, can be thought of as protein "caps" that protect chromosomes from deteriorating and fusing with neighboring chromosomes.
It is typical for telomeres to shorten as cells divide and chromosomes replicate over time. Now a new study from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) suggest a strong link between telomere shortening and poor cardiovascular outcomes in patients with acute coronary syndrome.
If you think "yes, but I do not have acute coronary syndrome" keep in mind that people who have long telomeres are probably much less likely to get acute coronary syndrome (and osteoarthritis and many other maladies, aches, and pains). Your body will function better with younger cells to do repairs even if most of the cells are older.
Regardless of age group shorter telomeres are associated with greater risk of heart attack and death.
The study is being presented at the American College of Cardiology 2012 Annual Scientific Session, March 24 to 26 in Chicago.
Scientists measured telomere length in 5,044 patients with an acute coronary syndrome who were followed for 18 months.
They evaluated the risk of cardiovascular death or heart attack based on telomere length and other characteristics.
Shorter telomeres were associated with older age, male gender, smoking, prior heart attack and heart failure; although, the correlation between each individual factor and telomere length was modest. Age, for example, only accounts for seven percent of the variability in telomere length.
Telomere length was strongly associated with risk of cardiovascular death or heart attack. Patients with shorter telomeres had the highest risk. This relationship was consistent across various age groups.
Even if you are young enough to think you have low odds of a heart attack or other organ failure in the next 30 years you are still better off getting youthful cell therapies sooner rather than later. Aging damage to the body builds up over decades until it reaches the point where the body malfunctions enough to cause heart attacks or other major organ failures. A lot of disease processes feed on themselves in a vicious cycle where the more the body malfunctions the more it damages itself. You are better off keeping your body in excellent condition since reversing the vicious cycle at an advanced stage of disease is much much harder.
A new blood test soon to be launched in the United Kingdom claims to be able to tell you how long you are going to live. The £435 ($700) test measures the length of a person's telomeres - the inventor claims this is associated with longevity.
The company, Life Length, is working on approvals for sales in European countries and America.
You might not want to know. Imagine a test could predict your life expectancy to within 2 years. Would you want to know? I'm not sure I would. Death is so final, such a hard limit. Beyond this point you will not experience this life in this universe. You might not even exist beyond this point. Do you want to know when that is?
Is the claim for this test plausible? Yup. See my previous posts Short Telomeres Markers For Higher Cancer Risk, Telomere Length Indicates Mortality Risk, Chronic Stress Accelerates Aging As Measured By Telomere Length, Sedentary Lifestyles Age Chromosome Telomeres Faster, and last but not least: Telomere Lengthening Rejuvenates Mice.
Now, having said that, the test can not precisely predict your year of death. Too many factors (accidents, suicide, and murder aside) influence your date of death. Take cancer for example. There's a lot of randomness involved in determining when we'll get cancer. The accumulation of damage in cells can make them turn cancerous. But just when the right set of genetic mutations or other cancer-promoting damage will occur in some cell in one's body is as hard to predict as when someone will win a lottery. Many things have to line up just right all in the same cell to make it cancerous. Every day is basically another throw of the dice. Will a bunch of mutations all line up to send a cell of yours into dangerous mad replication and growth?
Better longevity tests seem useful for retirement planning. Should you save enough money to support yourself to age 95? Or expect to die by your late 60s? A telomere test could help you decide difficult questions about your savings rate and career choices. Do you need to work past age 70 to save enough money to avoid going broke in your 80s and avoid poverty in your 90s? A better sense of the odds would help.
Of course, before we hit our biological shelf life expiration date some of us just might live long enough to still be around when rejuvenation therapies become available. Injections of youthful stem cells with long telomeres could replace older tired cells with short telomeres. This would be great for the immune system, for example, because a youthful immune system will do a better job of fighting cancer. Also, youthful cells for the cardiovascular system could cut the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other killers.
A report about a new imaging technology for osteoarthritis diagnosis mentions yet another example of why we should want to defeat and reverse the aging process. Half the people over the age of 65 have osteoarthritis.
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2008 — A newly developed medical imaging technology may provide doctors with a long-awaited test for early diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA), scientists from New York reported today at the 236th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. By far the most common form of arthritis, OA is a bane of the Baby Boom generation, causing joint pain and disability for more than half of those over 65 – nearly 21 million people in the United States.
You stand a pretty good chance of spending a substantial part of your life in pain.
Magnetic resonance imaging can detect low levels of vital joint polymer glycosaminogycan (GAG) as an indication of osteoarthritis.
The new method uses a modified form of magnetic resonance imaging to determine the concentration of a polymer known as glycosaminogycan (GAG) that holds lots of water and gives cartilage its tough, elastic properties. GAG also is a recognized biomarker for both osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease — a common cause of back pain. According to Jerschow, a low concentration of GAG is known to correlate with the onset of osteoarthritis and other cartilage disorders.
The diagnostic "tags" the hydrogen atoms attached to the GAGs in a way that makes them emit a signal that can be picked up by an MRI machine to determine the concentration of GAG and assess cartilage health.
Advanced OA is very easy to diagnose, Regatte points out. By then, however, joint replacement may be the only option. With early detection, physicians could prescribe dietary supplements, medication or other measures to ward off further cartilage damage.
Some day we'll have stem cell therapies and gene therapies to do joint rejuvenation. Before getting treated will we first get ourselves scanned for signs of deterioration? I'm thinking if joint stem cell therapies become available in 10 to 15 years for anyone over 40 treatment will make sense. Why even let the earliest stages of deterioration to happen before restoring joints to youthful condition?