Telomeres are like little hats at the end of each chromosome. They’re a sequence of repetitive nucleotides that prevent the chromosome from fraying, deteriorating, or fusing with other another chromatid. As you get older, your telomeres shorten, causing more error in DNA replication. Thus, our skin sags, our hair grays, and our eyes just don’t work like they used to.
Telomerase is the enzyme that makes telomeres. For awhile, and maybe still, they were looking for a drug that would silence telomerase, since cancer cells need it to replicate. In the process, some dude found a compound that activated telomerase: TA-65. No one cared. Except everyone, when they discovered its potent anti-aging properties. Now he’s selling it for 100$+ a bottle.
The thought of getting old terrifies me. As a woman, there are a lot of expectations for maintaining our appearance, which totally goes against our biology to sag and wrinkle and become infertile. Gotta stay plush and beautiful forever – if you were even those things in the first place. (You totally are.)
It’s not all about getting ugly though – after watching my grandmother battle with my grandfather and his onset of dementia, I’ve decided I want to be cremated and turned into a big cherry blossom tree at the age of 70. Dead or alive.
Losing your mind though – it puts such a burden on the people who love you. All I can do is watch her snap and fray as he pulls at her for support. He can’t be without her for 5 minutes. And he isn’t the sweetest old guy in the universe – but that’s what you get when you marry an Italian, she says.
It stresses me out to have a time-limit right in front of me. Like, there it is. There is the future. Better fuckin make something of yourself before you lose it and you can’t piss by yourself anymore. But that’s such a long time from now! Ha yeah, that’s what I thought when I was 10. Now I’m having an early quarter-life crisis every other day. Time flies, bitches.
But maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe some people grow old together and have fun. Maybe some people get divorced and adopt a big parrot and travel the world with it. Maybe some people are happy, and I’m not, and that’s just how I am. I just hope I’m still a little cute when I’m ancient.
And that’s what I learned at the PARES meeting today. I also wore a dress with a top button that kept popping open and flashing my lacy tits to a room full of doctors and researchers.