Monday, October 5, 2009

Three Americans Share Nobel Prize for Medicine

From the New York Times:

This piece of basic biology soon turned out to have important implications for aging and cancer. Telomerase is usually active only at the beginning of life; thereafter the telomeres get shorter each time a cell divides. When they get too short, a cell is thrown into senescence, meaning that it is prevented from dividing again.

Short telomeres are known to play a role in certain diseases of aging, and may be of more general importance. Telomeres are also important in cancer, a disease in which control of cell proliferation is lost. Cancer cells need to reactivate the telomerase gene, or their telomeres will get steadily shorter, forcing them into senescence. In some 80 to 90 percent of human cancer cells, the telomerase gene has been switched back on, Dr. Blackburn said. Clinical trials are under way to see if cancers can be treated by inhibiting telomerase.

So we've pretty much cured cancer. But don't forget, the American health care system is horrible and in need of a government takeover.

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