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Our paper in the Journal of Experimental Medicine


Ageing as an interpretation for the non-proliferation of cells in culture
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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In our efforts to interpret these events and put it in some scientific context, after having ruled out the possibility that the cells were running out of some important nutrient that they couldn't produce in cell culture, and after eliminating virtually any explanation we could think of in conversations with a bunch of people at the Institute – most of them knew about our work as we did of theirs – I don't recall with... with certainty who first proposed an answer, whether it was me or someone else is a bit foggy, but essentially unimportant because whoever, whether it was me or someone else... we became excited about the explanation that this had something to do with ageing. And the reason we thought that was a good idea is because we could not exclude it. And it made... since ageing, the biology of ageing, was in a very primitive area of research, nobody knew virtually anything about it at that time, we thought this was a good way out of the trap of explaining, putting our work in some context. That's how insignificant we thought that interpretation was and indeed it was stated in the original paper. Of course, my next paper that I authored alone pretty much convinced us, or came close to convincing me at least, that we were being told something about the ageing phenomenon in respect to this event but we didn't take it all that seriously in the first paper.

Leonard Hayflick (b. 1928), the recipient of several research prizes and awards, including the 1991 Sandoz Prize for Gerontological Research, is known for his research in cell biology, virus vaccine development, and mycoplasmology. He also has studied the ageing process for more than thirty years. Hayflick is known for discovering that human cells divide for a limited number of times in vitro (refuting the contention by Alexis Carrel that normal body cells are immortal), which is known as the Hayflick limit, as well as developing the first normal human diploid cell strains for studies on human ageing and for research use throughout the world. He also made the first oral polio vaccine produced in a continuously propogated cell strain - work which contributed to significant virus vaccine development.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: nutrient, cell culture, scientific paper

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012