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Nathan Shock

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Human adult cell replication lower than fetal cell replication
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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So, this was also happening about this time, that is in '63, '64, and I had also now done more research on these cell populations. And because I had learned that 50 population doublings was the limit for cell cultures derived from human foetuses, and because I'd made this link with aging, it was obvious to do an experiment with tissue derived from human adults. I obtained tissue from human adults, which wasn't terribly difficult at that time, and determined the number of population doublings that they underwent. It turned out that as a group, the adult cell cultures underwent fewer population doublings than the cultures derived from human embryos did as a group. There were variations among individuals in respect to an association with age, but it was clear that there was a difference between the two groups. And, so, that further strengthened the argument that this may... that the phenomenon may be telling us something about aging. And that theme became now more important that interpretation.

The... and that resulted in my second paper. And I should mention that by now the first paper was being, to some extent, recognised, although I should say that it took at least ten years to overcome the dogma. It took ten years for most of the scientific community to agree that normal human cells have a finite capacity to replicate.

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: cell population, population doubling, cell culture, aging, adults, fetus, tissue, replication

Duration: 1 minute, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012