It’s probably been two years since I asked my friend and quintessential telomere scientist Bill Andrews what he found most heartening and most disappointing about the telomere/telomerase field.
We were recording a telecon together and I am not sure if it ever really got aired as the individuals responsible for that aspect of things proved not to be particularly reliable among other things.
But while Bill and I both enjoyed the fact that the field has progressed and the measurement aspect of telomeres had matured with companies like Life Length (enough of you took advantage of that special I ran on the test to keep me very busy LOL), we both lamented the usurpation of the longevity aspect of telomeres by the cancer field.
The usual scenario goes something like this: many human cancers express telomerase so we are going to focus on this enzyme to create drugs to stop cancer. It won’t work because cancer is not a single gene problem in most cases.
There are tons of known oncogenes you no longer hear about. HIF-1 alpha. C Myc, KRAS, ATM. P53 to name a few.
In all of the above cases there are cancers that express these genes and many others. The cocktail approach involves sampling a tumor, finding the aberrant, over expressed or mutated genes and then trying to block them. Telomerase over expression or mutation is in that ilk. But tumors have a way of changing the genes needed to keep them going and telomerase is only one in series of events that needs to happen.
Simply put we still don’t know what causes cancer. My suggestions to further explore mitochondrial and metabolic drivers are not being followed, at least at any significant level.
What might happen with telomerase inhibitors which so far have not delivered on their promise, is you might buy a little time or runway until the tumor figures out its next step and comes back worse than ever.
Most of the gene products and gene interventions I mentioned above failed to produce viable drugs either.
But top-level scientists continue to insist that prevention is waste of time.
I beg to differ!!!
While I could never publicly suggest that keeping your telomeres long and healthy and combatting inflammation in your body might help you.
I can tell you to go to pub med and look at what happens to telomeres in cancer and aging. I can ask you to look at what happens to cancerous tumors when you add Omega 6 inflammatory fats and conversely at Omega 3 fish oil type fats.
Then you can decide for yourself.
I have not lost my passion for telomeres and telomerase. I simply have to watch the powers that be make all the mistakes, follow the wrong path, and gouge us for money in the process.
You however don’t have to wait!!!