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Jeanne Louise Calment, a French supercentenarian, is the oldest recorded person to live on earth. She died in 1997 at the age of 122. Imagine how cool would it be if we could live for like 200 or 300 years.

Derreck Rossi, Harvard University said, ìWe are programmed to dieî. As creepy as it sounds, it is true. We start the journey of our life as a single celled zygote, which further divides and forms embryo, divides more and then a foetus, and then more and goes on from the infant stage to puberty to adulthood and to old age. Human cells divide and divide the whole time and so do the other living cells but as the chromosomes keep dividing the whole time as well, we may loose some vital information. There are cap like structures on tips of the chromosomes called ìtelomeresî which are often compared to the tips of the shoe lace.Telomeres protect the chromosomes while deterioration or in other words, telomeres are a part of chromosomes which we can afford to loose.

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As the cells divide, the telomeres get shorter and shorter and further fail to cover the chromosomes and thatís when we start ageing and get diseases and organ damages. If we could somehow increase the length ofthe telomeres, we could probably live longer. Progeria is a deadly disease in which a child starts ageing really quickly and dies at an age of 13 or near. Till now, there is no known way to treat progeria. Progeria is like ageing. If we can find a way to increase the length of telomeres or live longer, we may be able to treat progeria as well.

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Dr. John P Cooke, Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, Texas has been working on this with his team to somehow treat Progeria. A ribonucleic protein called Telomerase, or terminal transferase, canactually prevent the telomere to shorten and we can live longer. Telomerase maintains the health of the telomeres. But yes, a lot is still in the dark and still needs to be researched about. Telomere has single stranded TTAGGG sequencebundle on tips of the chromosomes and the telomerase enzyme can add more TTAGGG sequences to the tips of the telomeres ñ in which case we may live longer than we do. TERT is an active component of telomerase. If there was some way that we could activate the Telomerase enzyme in order for telomeres not to get any shorter, we could live longer and may also reverse ageing. But as everything has pros and cons, there are chances that these anti-ageing methods may lead to cancer in people.

About the author

Simran Sachdeva, a class 11 bright student, hails from Karnal, India. She has keen interest in analytical research in the field of healthcare. She won the prestigious Hindustan Times essay contest 2017-18 and was also the Chief Writer for the special edition of the Times Of India in 2018-19. Her areas of keen interest include Science, Research & Technology and wishes to be a scientist in future.

InnoHEALTH Magazine

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