A primary reason that we grow old and our health declines might be that a region of our DNA called the “telomere” shortens every time our cells divide. An enzyme called “telomerase,” produced within our cells, can re-lengthen our telomeres. All human cells have a gene that produces telomerase, but it is inactive in the vast majority of our cells. Over the last two decades, scientists have established that telomere shortening may play a role in nearly every disease associated with old age, from heart disease to arthritis to cancer. Support-of-concept experiments at three independent laboratories have also suggested that turning on telomerase causes age reversal effects in human cells and mice. Dr. Bill Andrews founded Sierra Sciences in 1999 to pursue the possible anti-aging applications of turning on the telomerase gene, to find out if telomeres really play a role in aging and disease. Formerly, he was the Director of Molecular Biology at Geron Corporation, where he and his team won second place for National Inventor of the Year for discovering human telomerase. From 1999 to 2006, Sierra Sciences studied and characterized the potential regulatory mechanisms of the telomerase gene and discovered several genetic sites and strategies for turning it on. In 2007, Sierra Sciences discovered its first small-molecule, drug-like compound, called C0057684, that could turn on the telomerase gene in human cells. The discovery of C0057684 led to the development of a very accurate, proprietary, high-throughput screening system, which in turn led to the discovery of even more powerful compounds that turn on telomerase. Sierra Science is truly interested in finding a cure for aging. The company is endeavoring to search for stronger and stronger telomerase inducers until it finds a compound potent enough to lengthen telomeres, not just decrease their rate of shortening. Once that has been achieved we can then ask the BIG questions: Does telomerase stop or reverse human aging and declining health? Are there negative effects of producing telomerase, such as cancer?
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