We recently explained that aging and death are caused by the fact that the ends of our cells, called telomeres, shorten every time the cell divides. But there is one kind of cell that has the secret of eternal life: cancer cells. If we could learn how they live forever, unless killed by chemotherapy or radiation, we might be able to figure out how we can live forever too.
Shaoni Bhattacharya writes in New Scientist that cancer cells stay young by adding tiny caps to their telomeres whenever they divide, so they don’t get shorter the way the ends of regular cells do. Researcher Madalena Tarsounas says, “Cancer has an amazing ability to shake off the shackles of aging and death, which is one of the reasons why it can be so hard to treat.”