Repair of aging skin could become more than merely a cosmetic concern if current research fulfills its promise. Recent efforts to eliminate wrinkles and regenerate skin damaged by the years--or by injury, acne, or infection--may have applications for improved wound repair in the elderly, and potentially for protection against serious aging-related skin conditions.

Geron Corp of Menlo Park, Calif., perhaps best known for its research into inhibition of telomerase to treat cancer, is also investigating the benefits of activating the enzyme. Telomerase adds nucleotide repeats called telomeres to the ends of chromosomes, thus compensating for the loss of telomeric DNA that occurs with each cell division. In humans, telomeres act as the counter of how many times a cell can replicate. Geron chief scientific officer Calvin B. Harley explains that the loss of telomeres, and the subsequent end to a cell's replicative life, are characteristics of chronic skin ulcers in...

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