Dolly and Diabetes


Political Index

Dolly, the First Animal to Be Cloned
     In June of 2000, Ubiquity Magazine published an interview with Dr. Michael West, CEO of Advanced Cell Technologies. One of the questions asked Dr. West was asked was whether Dolly had been born already partially aged. Dr. West's reply was as follows,

Why did Dolly, the celebrated cloned sheep, have shortened telomeres? How did you solve this problem?

Dolly was cloned from a cultured breast epithelial cell that in turn came from a 6 year old sheep.  As the readers may know, cells have a genetic “clock” at the end of each DNA strand called the telomere that can be “read” to tell the age of the cell.  So an interesting experiment is to measure the age of Dolly’s cells.  Wilmut showed in his 1999 paper reasonable data (though only one cell culture and one experiment) that telomeres were shortening as the breast cells aged in the dish, and that Dolly’s telomeres were shorter than age-matched non-cloned sheep.  Our approach differed in that we used cows rather than sheep, we use a different cloning technology (cells grown in the presence of adequate growth factors to promote cell division) and we grew our cells to old age before the transfer into an egg cell.  Beyond that explanation, I’m afraid I don’t want to elaborate at the moment.  We wish to protect certain patents.

    Dolly was the first successful attempt at cloning a large mammal. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised if the first attempt wasn't as successful as subsequent clonings.
    Unlike Dolly, who was shown to have shortened telomeres than a newborn sheep (by six years), the eight calves cloned by Advanced Cell Technology in 1999 have telomeres that are somewhat longer than the teleomeres of newborn calves, and might be expected to live, on average, a little longer than the average cow.
    Dolly was six years old when she was born, and she died six years later, at a chronological age of six but at a physiological age of twelve... right on time.
    In other words, no one should be surprised that Dolly died "young", or draw inferences from Dolly's shortened span vis-à-vis the projected life spans of other cloned organisms. 
    This would seem to underscore the importance of telomeres in determining an organism's life span.

The Retardation of Aging
Thiamine Derivative May Halt Diabetic Complications
    I have mentioned elsewhere the crosslink-breaking thiamine derivative ALT-711 that partially restores elasticity to aging hearts and blood vessels.    

"Alteon has discovered several distinct chemical classes of A.G.E. Crosslink Breakers, comprising a library of 375 compounds. With this new technology platform, the possibility exists to reverse tissue damage caused by aging and diabetes."

    So of course, the question is, what's the relationship of 'benfotiamine" to ALT-711? Both are thiamine derivatives.
    This also demonstrates the relationship between agents that help prevent or ameliorate various diseases, by retarding or partially reversing aging. You can't separate medicine from life-extension. I suspect that these anti-diabetic agents aren't just beneficial to diabetics. I suspect that they will help everyone's circulatory systems. Right now, angiotension-converting-enzyme (A. C. E.) inhibiting blood pressure medications, such as Vasotec, also inhibit Advanced Glycation End-products (A. G. E.'s), and thereby slow the aging process.
    Could some of our modern medicines already have aging retardant or aging reversal properties...  nothing dramatic, but  causing the three-month-per-year recent upward creep in average and maximum life spans?
    Religions have offered the hope of life beyond the grave since prehistoric times. Pharaoh's Egypt offered his nobility resurrection in a world to come. (It would appear that they were wrong about that.) Vikings were buried with their longboats. American Indians thought that the stars were the campfires of departed warriors who had gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds. Every "race" in every place has been unable to face permanent death, and has developed a religion that promises and afterlife. "Vita immortalis" has been the holy grail of humanity since Cro-Magnon buried their dead with grave goods.. 
    Now (I think)  we're approaching the threshold of youth extension. And yet, astonishingly to me, not everyone wants this.