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A biotech startup proposed a new hypothesis for curing dementia. It involves helping certain brain cells produce more telomerase to slow their degradation. But scientists have their doubts, because telomerase is also involved in most cancers.

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  • In the field of dementia research where there have been no concrete answers, all new theories are welcome. But they have to be testable—especially when they include something like telomerase.

    Telomerase is the enzyme that builds up telomeres, which are the little caps on chromosomes. Shorter telomeres

    In the field of dementia research where there have been no concrete answers, all new theories are welcome. But they have to be testable—especially when they include something like telomerase.

    Telomerase is the enzyme that builds up telomeres, which are the little caps on chromosomes. Shorter telomeres have been associated with aging and age-related diseases, which is why telomerase seems like a good target.

    BUT telomerase pops up a LOT in cancer. Like, most cancers. So is gene therapy using telomerase a good idea? Maybe!! If, and only if, scientists can prove that it's safe—and then effective.

  • I think, in the next 30 years or so, researchers will finally know more about how telomeres can be altered to treat disease. That day is clearly not now. Virus delivery seems too inefficient in the brain to effectively treat dementia, though perhaps it could work for other kinds of age-related conditions

    I think, in the next 30 years or so, researchers will finally know more about how telomeres can be altered to treat disease. That day is clearly not now. Virus delivery seems too inefficient in the brain to effectively treat dementia, though perhaps it could work for other kinds of age-related conditions. My guess is that it will take a delivery system that we don't have yet, and a much better understanding of the mechanisms that govern telomeres, before we're able to achieve that.