Culture and Sports / Life Science / Society / Technology
A medical procedure developed this century that delays the aging process by manipulating pieces of DNA responsible for aging called telomeres. Telomeres, located at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes and composed of a six-base DNA sequence of TTAGGG in humans, are tightly wound and highly repetitive structures that are extended over time by telomerase, a special reverse transcriptase, in order to prevent cellular senescence. However, the action of telomerase is not enough to extend telomeres indefinitely, due to the nature of cellular division. As these structures are considered an aging clock for the body, it is thought that by synthesizing telomerase and thereby extending telomeres as they naturally decrease with every cell division, it is possible to extend an organism's life span. While not permitted by law, it is said that the military, along with certain government organizations, have already started performing this procedure on people via gene therapy. A consequence of telomere lengthening is an increased risk of cancer, though this too is addressed via gene therapy. Further research is currently being conducted that will attempt to turn normal cells into immortal cells without the aid of such regular procedures.