Telomeres and Their Role In Ageing
The human body is composed of cells, which contain complex genetic DNA information allowing the body to exist, regenerate and maintain itself.
Cell longevity has been correlated to a cell’s ability to divide and replicate and research into this process has entered bold new territory with far-reaching implications for better understanding human health and development.
Scientist Elizabeth Blackburn AC, FRS, FAA, FRSN became Australia’s first female Nobel Prize winner for Physiology/Medicine in 2009 for her work with the cellular functions of telomeres and the enzyme that creates them called telomerase.
Simply described, Telomeres are caps that bind and protect genetic data at the end of chromosomes. In the same way a shoelace has bindings to prevent them from fraying, telomeres coat and protect chromosomes and their genetic coding which also prevents chromosome ends from fraying and bonding to each other, which would interrupt or destroy an organism's vital genetic information.
The health of a cell and it’s capability to divide normally has a correlation with the length of it’s telomeres
Telomeres were discovered in the 1930s, however their makeup and function was not identified until the 1970’s when breakthroughs were made in their creation, function and behaviours.
Through ongoing research, scientists now understand that cellular longevity can be linked to a cells ability to divide, and the length of a telomere shortens repeatedly after each replication until the cell becomes senescent and is no longer capable of regeneration.
Longer telomeres are generally considered to be an indication of younger, healthier cells, while shorter telomeres are more likely to be an indication of cellular ageing in cells closer to the end of their cycle.
The telomerase enzyme is the key to creating and maintaining telomeres with promising research being conducted on RNA coding plus diet & lifestsyle factors to positively influence telomerase and telomeres.