Monday, September 10, 2007

How Do You Spell Telomere? T-T-A-G-G-G

Finishing off Michael West’s (founder of Geron NASDAQ: GERN and Advanced Cell Technology OTCBB: ACTC.OB) The Immortal Cell (TIC) left me with a lingering thought…my geophysical and other biases aside…Colorado truly is an amazing place, and without a doubt has been (since Keith Porter's arrival) and continues to remain at the forefront of innovation from regenerative medicine discovery (I’ll get to the TIC example in a moment) to personalized healthcare (take a peek at what ARCA Discovery is doing).

This post in no way intends to function as a book review, for I can barely link two clauses by a conjunction together, so I’ll steer clear from any evaluation efforts and will simply state that if you are interested in any aspect of regenerative medicine you should read Dr. West’s book.

Now onto the TIC example and the discovery of Telomerase. The founding of Geron and ACT owe a tremendous amount to the work carried out at the University of Colorado and the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Cech (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1989); these efforts and discoveries are highlighted in Dr. West’s book. Of great was members of the Cech laboratory who discovered the catalytic protein subunit of telomerase and cloned and sequenced genes encoding it in Euplotes, S. pombe, human, Tetrahymena and Oxytricha. The active site protein subunits comprise a new class of reverse transcriptases. The group has also identified the Protection of Telomeres protein that caps the very ends of chromosomes in S. pombe, human, and other eukaryotes, and is investigating its sequence specificity of ssDNA binding using both biochemistry and X-ray crystallography. Long-term goals are to understand the regulation of telomerase by DNA-binding telomere proteins and to understand the nuclear localization and trafficking of telomerase.

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