Without the enzyme that “regenerates” telomeres (the ends of DNA), stem cells lose functionality and the organism rapidly ages, while it acquires cancer resistance. The finding, which has significant implications in cancer and aging research, was presented yesterday at the 2nd IFOM-IEO Campus Meeting on Cancer (May 5th – 8th, IFOM-IEO Campus, Milan, Italy) by Marìa A. Blasco, of the Spanish National Cancer Center (CNIO) in Madrid (Spain).
Our cells’ DNA has a sort of “tail”: the telomeres. Every time our cells divide, telomeres get shorter and shorter. This progressive telomere shortening is compensated by the action of a specific enzyme, called “telomerase”, which is able to regenerate the tails; but in our cells there is not enough telomerase to keep telomeres at a constant length during our lifetime. And when telomeres get too short, cells stop replicating. Scientists have long hypothesized (and partially proved, with several experiments) that telomere shortening is correlated, on the one hand, to the general aging of the body (when many cells in a tissue stop replicating, the tissue becomes unable to regenerate itself and gets “old”) and, on the other hand, to cancer (tumour cells replicate much more than normal cells, therefore they need some mechanism to counteract natural telomere shortening).
To make the picture even more complicated, stem cells (the other big “stars” of modern biology research) might be the only cells that are able to produce the enzyme telomerase. Intuitively this makes sense, since stem cells are the “mother cells” of all cells, and they are necessary to the body to regenerate tissues and organs during lifetime. But, what is the role of telomerase in stem cells? And what could happen if the enzyme is absent? To answer these questions, Blasco and colleagues set up a series of experiments in mice. And they found that the lack of telomerase causes a severe defect in the fundamental functions of stem cells. “In particular – Blasco said – we have been looking at skin stem cells. And we observed that, in genetically modified mice that did not express telomerase, stem cells lost their functionality and became unable to regenerate the damaged epithelial tissue. On the whole, these mice aged more rapidly than normal mice. But, there was a very interesting side effect: without telomerase, mice showed a marked cancer resistance.” Further experiments on telomeres structure showed that every time the shortening process is altered, the result is either “early aging and cancer resistance” (if shortening is boosted), or “aging inhibition and more cancer occurrence” (if shortening is reduced).
The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope
23.10.2017 | University at Buffalo
Scientists track ovarian cancers to site of origin: Fallopian tubes
23.10.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
23.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
23.10.2017 | Life Sciences
23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine