WATCH THIS EASY TO UNDERSTAND VIDEO EXPLANATION OF TELOMERASE
You may be somewhat confused, as I was when first hearing of these discoveries about the concept of Telomerase Induction or Activation. To induce or activate something implies that it is already there. So, if the telomerase enzyme is indeed in our cells already why are we even ageing? There is truth and confusion within this paragraph, let me explain.
Yes, the telomerase gene is present in every cell in your body. However it only expresses (aka works) in your reproductive cells. So, why would your reproductive cells express the telomerase enzyme while the gene is dormant in every other cell? To be honest, I’m not sure of the ‘why’ – why weren’t we designed to live disease free forever? But I can answer the ‘because’. Because in every cell, other than your reproductive cells the telomerase gene has a repressor attached to it, think of a door that doesn’t let the telomerase out. An activator or inducer simply opens that door so your gene can freely express. Our survival depends on our reproductive cells expressing telomerase. Dr Andrews puts it concisely when he explains in his book, Curing Aging:
“Obviously, there must be a way for our bodies to re-lengthen telomeres. Otherwise our sperm and egg cells would contain telomeres the same length as the rest of our cells, which would yield embryos that would be biologically as old as we are. Because so much cell division takes place in the womb, our children would then be born much older than us. Humanity could not continue to exist for more than a generation or two if this were the case”.
Remember what you’ve learned about cell division? Cell division is actually ageing. An embryo goes from 2 cells to 3 trillion before being born, that’s actually a huge amount of ‘ageing’ that happens before we are even born.
“However” continues Dr Andrews, “our reproductive cells do not exhibit telomere shortening, and show no signs of aging. They are our germ line – the same one that has been dividing since the beginning of life on this planet. And this germ line is, essentially, immortal. The reason this line of cells is immortal is that our reproductive cells produce an enzyme called Telomerase. Telomerase has one primary function: to act like an assembly line that adds nucleotides to the ends of our chromosomes, thereby lengthening our telomeres”.
The fact that humans don’t express telomerase in every cell, is in my opinion, just bad luck! There are animals on this planet that shows no signs of ageing at all and have very low incidences of cancer (or is completely non-existent) within their species.
Ageing has not existed forever. Approximately 4.5 billion years ago, a cell came into existence on Earth that was the *progenitor of every living organism that has since existed. This cell had the ability to divide indefinitely. It exhibited no ageing process.
Much later -perhaps three billion years later- some organisms from that line of cells began to form: worms, beetles, lobsters, humans. The ability for each cell in these organisms to divide indefinitely, indeed to remain immortal, was still passed on from one generation to the next, and remained immortal. Even with the inclusion of multicellular organisms, the **germ line itself exhibited no ageing process.
But, in some of these organisms, such as humans, certain cells strayed from the germ line and began to exhibit signs of ageing. These cells aged because they became afflicted with a disease: their ability to reproduce themselves indefinitely became broken. The cause of this disease is still speculative, but many scientists are searching for cures.
The fact that a disease has existed in the genetic code of an animal for a very long time does not mean that it is not a disease. Thousands of diseases, from hemophilia to cystic fibrosis, have lurked in our genes for far longer than recorded history. These diseases should be cured, and ageing is no exception.
- * progenitor cells are early descendants of stem cells that can differentiate to form one or more kinds of cells
- ** our ‘germ line’ is what we call our reproductive cells.