News FocusCell Biology

Are Telomere Tests Ready for Prime Time?

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Science  22 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6028, pp. 414-415
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6028.414

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Can the length of our telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that wear down as we get old, predict how well our bodies will age and our vulnerability to chronic diseases? Two new companies, both with heavyweight academic backing, are betting on it and have started or are planning to start performing telomere tests for the general public this year. But other leading telomere scientists say such tests are premature, if not virtually useless. On opposite sides of the issue are former collaborators Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider, who, along with Jack Szostak of Harvard Medical School, shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their telomere discoveries.