Telomerase – The Real Fountain of Youth
Robin is a normal twelve-year-old girl. She’s about to run one mile in gym class, and she expects to be successful. She is dead last and gasping for breath at the end. After a year, her hair has begun to gray, her skin is prone to bruises, and she is suffering from chronic fatigue. Robin is now in her 30s and has completely gray hair.
Robin suffers from a rare disease that causes telomeres to prematurely shorten. Her father also had this condition. Both of his hips were replaced before he died at age 43 due to muscle and bone loss. Robin’s situation is similar to what we all experience, but at a slower rate.
Leonard Hayflick discovered in 1961 that fetal cell divisions were limited. It was a shocking discovery that shattered the (now ridiculous) long-held belief that all cells were immortal. He could not change the maximum number of divisions that were allotted.