Dark side to fascinating find hailed a ‘cure’ for ageing
Australian documentary, Immortal, has been nominated for a prestigious Emmy award in the US. Immortal, which broadcast in Australia in 2010 as part of the Secrets of the Human Body season on SBS, was retitled Decoding Immortality for an American audience and broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel in the US. It has now been nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy Award in the Outstanding Science and Technology Programming category. The News and Documentary Emmy Awards will be held at the Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York’s Time Warner Centre on October 1. Immortal follows the work of Nobel Prize-winning Australian scientist Elizabeth Blackburn (pictured). In 2009, Professor Blackburn and her fellow researchers discovered an enzyme deep in the DNA of a single-cell pond creature, the so-called ‘‘immortalising’’ enzyme – a discovery that earned her the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. The discovery has been hailed by some as a ‘‘cure’’ for ageing. Middle-aged human cells have been replenished and rejuvenated by triggering this enzyme, becoming, in effect, young again. But the dark side to this incredible find is that the ‘‘immortalising’’ enzyme that fuels life also fuels cancer. Immortal, five years in the making, reveals the inner workings of this biological paradox.