So, our telomeres have been worn away by constant division of cells, to the point where the DNA is being damaged. So it would seem the simplest option would be to some how repair the telomeres.
|Okay, these structural images aren't quite as dramatic as I'd like|
Telomerase is an enzyme which has the incredibly useful function of restoring and rebuilding the telomere caps on the ends of the DNA. It does this by binding to the DNA, and adding on the appropriate bases that form the telomere. This is illustrated clearly in the image below;
As you can see, the telomerase contains an "RNA template", which binds the bases (or to give them their proper title, nucleotides). The result of this? The telomeres are restored back to their former glory.
To take it back to my original shoelace metaphor, telomerase would be like repairing the aglets on your shoelace with sellotape. Okay, that's not a perfect metaphor, but you understand what I'm saying. Telomerase repairs and restore the telomeres.
As you might imagine, there have already been a wealth of studies into the different effects of telomerase, and how we might be able to utilise these effects in life-extension therapies. I'll be looking more at these next time. See you then.