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Posted: July 2, 2007
Cure for cancer, age-related diseases coming into view
(Nanowerk News) Actor Woody Allen once said, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.”
Developments in nanotechnology may soon make Allen’s goal possible, as biotechnology firms like Telomolecular of Rancho Cordova, Calif., explore ways to instill aging tissues and organs with indefinite life.
Although this sounds like a Jules Verne sci-fi classic, it’s for real. Nanotechnology firm Telomolecular conducts innovative work in the repair of damaged chromosomal telomeres, producing new ways to reverse aging in tissues and organs, and new treatments that may one day cure or even eradicate cancer. While the elimination of cancer through this technique is still a long way off, the hope of treatments for such age-related diseases as macular degeneration, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, cirrhosis and Progeria is right around the corner.
Simply put, telomeres, are protein compounds that act like caps on the ends of chromosomes. When a cell divides, the DNA in its chromosomes is replicated and passed on to the new cell. Telomeres keep the replication process on track. With each replication, however, the telomeres shorten, becoming exhausted as a person or organism ages, resulting in cell deterioration which is linked to cancer and numerous age-related diseases, as well as the general aging process.
Nanocircles (a nanotechnology developed at Stanford University) and vTert (Telomolecular’s synthetic enzyme) are capable of repairing damaged and shortened telomeres. Researchers at Telomolecular believe they’ve found a way to deliver Nanocircles and vTert to chromosomes in living organisms, reversing diseases caused by that damage. The researchers envision the ability, eventually, to speed the healing process in humans, preventing or even curing cancer.
“In the laboratory, Telomolecular has regenerated aged tissues that remain permanently young and live thousands of times beyond their normal replicative life span,” said Matthew Sarad, chief executive officer. “Duplicated in living animals, this process could cure a variety of diseases caused by critical telomere degradation.”
Commercially, Telomere therapy has been successfully used to extend the life span of cell cultures used in producing pharmaceuticals, growing artificial corneas, and accelerating the healing process in skin grafts. Sarad predicts cosmetic use of telomere therapy could be available within two years, and may not require FDA approval. Other uses of telomere therapy, as developed by Telomolecular, include regeneration of damaged muscle and bone, accelerating wound healing, treating trauma disorders such as strokes, growing replacement organs, and preventing cancer development during stem cell therapy.
Treating macular degeneration, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis and cancer is a lengthy process taking months or years of therapy, often unsuccessful. But with advancements in nanotechnology and molecular biology such as those achieved at Telomolecular, it’s conceivable that treatment of these diseases may soon involve only a single, routine outpatient visit to a hospital or clinic. And shortly after that, preventative treatments may eliminate those diseases completely.
So, Woody, what might life be like, when we can live forever?