WALL STREET JOURNAL | By SHIRLEY S. WANG
It's not quite the Fountain of Youth, but scientists have found a way to induce some of our cells to live forever.
The purpose isn't to make people immortal, but rather to create therapies that might one day treat or delay the onset of disease, such as progressive eye disease, gastrointestinal disorders and cancer.
The research is focused on so-called telomeres, small bits of DNA that serve as protective coverings at the end of our chromosomes. These caps keep our chromosomes from unraveling, much like the plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces. When our telomeres are healthy, our cells remain healthy. But each time the cells divide, telomeres get shorter. When they reach a critically short length, as they do with age or the onset of certain diseases, cells lose the ability to divide and eventually die.