The trio that discovered telomerase, the caps on the ends of chromosomes that prevent genetic material from fraying, recently received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and their research could have implications for the quality of retirement living in the future.
Drs Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak will share the $1.4 million equivalent prize money from the foundation, although they will not be sending any funds to their research subjects, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The group had made their start working with pond scum, which has many more chromosomes than humans.
The idea behind using telomerase for anti-aging is promising, but the researchers caution that by protecting the body's ability to divide at the cellular level, a risk of cancer emerges, according to the newspaper. "It means there's a trade-off between aging and cancer," said Dr. Szostak.
He has moved on to other fields since the original discovery, but the prospect of improved retirement living conditions could occur as Blackburn and Greider tease out the fine line between increased cancer risk and anti-aging properties in their ongoing telomere research, according to the Philadelphia Daily Inquirer.