How long are your telomeres?

In 1975–1977, Elizabeth Blackburn, working as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University with Joseph Gall, discovered the unusual nature of telomeres, with their simple repeated DNA sequences composing chromosome ends. Blackburn, Carol Greider, and Jack Szostak were awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.

Nevertheless, in the 1970s there was no recognition that the telomere-shortening mechanism normally limits cells to a fixed number of divisions, and no animal study suggesting that this could be responsible for aging on the cellular level and sets a limit on lifespans.

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