I attended the Xconomy Forum last week on “Computing in the Age of the $1000 Genome”.
I found it fascinating, and while the focus was certainly much broader than telomere science and healthy aging, there were a number of great comments made by leading experts in the Human Genome that are very very relevant. Here are some of my favorites:
“In your cells right now, an enzyme is making a copy of your DNA in less than two hours, right in the nucleus.”
~ Hugh Martin, Pacific Biosciences
“For all this amazing genomic info to have an impact, we really need to invite the person into personalized medicine.”
~ Ashley Dombkowski, 23andme
Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, professor of biochemistry and biophysics joins a team of researchers at UCSF to measure the health benefits of drastic calorie restriction. One of the aims of the CRONA (Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition and Aging Study) is to see whether extremely low calorie intake slows down aging, and therefore reduces the risk of developing age related illnesses.
Conducted by Brian Duggan via email in August 2011
Brian Duggan: Can you please share with our readers a little of your background, and how you personally got interested in Telomere Science and its relationship with healthy aging?
Maria Blasco: After I did my PhD in Madrid, I was working at one of the leading Molecular Biology Institutes in Madrid, founded by Nobel Prize Lauretate Severo Ochoa. My supervisor, Dr. Margarita Salas, had the highest opinion of research performed at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York where she knew its Director, Bruce Stillman. Therefore, in the early nineties, when I saw that there was a new Junior Group, headed by Carol W. Greider, working with the enzyme telomerase, it was clear to me that I had to work in that Group.
A recent study has found that short, frayed telomeres in an individual are the cause for the production of a toxic protein which plays a role in aging. The protein, called progerin, is is also the cause of a rare genetic disease in children called progeria which causes aging at seven times the normal rate. This suggests that aging may be a distinct biological mechanism triggered by factors such as short telomeres, and not just a wearing out of cells over time, as has been previously thought.
In a landmark study in the world of genetic research, Kaiser Permanente and scientists at UCSF have successfully genotyped the DNA from a cohort of 100,000 Kaiser Permanente members with an average age of 65, and measured the length of participants’ telomeres, which are a window into the rate of aging in an individual.