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Stem Cells May Teach Immortalitylibfemme ( 06/23/2005, 21:44:25 )
One of the reasons I find cloning such a fascinating subject is because it integrates so many biological pathways still left to explore. Over the course of centuries we've eliminated large carnivores, the effects of climatic disasters and famines, and infectuous disesase as primary causes of death for our species. The only thing left shortening our lifespan is our own biochemistry. Nine years ago researchers didn't even know about microRNAs - tiny snippets of genetic material that have been linked to growth. About 200 human microRNAs have been identified so far.Having too many microRNA's is clearly not a good thing. MicroRNA's are overexpressed in cancer cells. However, aging stem cells seem to have too few and that's may be the reason healing slows down in the elderly. Learning how to give aging stem cells more microRNA's may rehabilitate them, theoretically indefinately.The University of Washington and Northwestern are testing that theory now by overproducing microRNAs in daughter cells that have begun to differentiate, trying to find the right recipe between the extremes of cancer on the one hand and senility and death on the other.
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