The BMJ Today: Explaining telomeres

georg_roegglaTelomeres are getting a lot of attention at the moment. At the 64th Nobel laureate meeting in Lindau two weeks ago, Elizabeth Blackburn (who won the 2009 Nobel prize in medicine) drew my attention to the role of telomeres in the cellular aging process.

Philip C Haycock and colleagues have reported an inverse association between leucocyte telomere length and the risk of coronary heart disease in a systematic review and meta-analysis, which was recently published in The BMJ. This isn’t easy to understand for all those like myself who aren’t really familiar with this rather specialised topic.

Richard Lehman at last simply explains the nature of telomeres in his latest weekly journal review blog: “Telomeres are the things at the end of your chromosomes that show how much longer you have left to live.”

Georg Roeggla is an associate editor for The BMJ.

  • Jamie

    Very surprised to see this discussion in the BMJ.

    The idea that telomeres determine or closely link to life-span in humans has been de-bunked over and over again. Determination of TL provides little or no prognostic value and the underlying biology, as usual, has been grossly over-sold in terms of its clinical relevance by journals like Nature and the science fraternity….

    Not a great idea to give the concept credibility among practising clinicians…

    Prof JT