UCSF Researchers Want to Market a DNA Test to Monitor Well-Being Over a Lifetime; the Push for Longer Telomeres. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have been at the forefront of an emerging medical field that seeks to identify and help treat problems caused by stress. Now, these scientists hope to market their findings to physicians in the form of a test that can act as a personal report card on patients’ health.
“The science is there, and the time is right to bring it to the public,” said Elizabeth Blackburn, one of the UCSF researchers who co-founded the business, Telome Health Inc. “We see a big market opportunity for this.” Telome Health, which has 10 employees, is launching its website Thursday to mark a more public phase of its business, following a flurry of studies in recent years that piggybacked on research by Ms. Blackburn and two of her colleagues, Jue Lin and Elissa Epel.
In 2004, the researchers showed that psychological stress harms a key component of human cells, called telomeres. Telomeres, which are pieces of DNA, are attached to and protect the chromosomes of cells. Telomeres allow chromosomes to divide properly when, say, the body needs more white blood cells to fight infection. Telomeres fray naturally as a person ages but higher levels of psychological stress can degrade telomeres at a faster rate, studies by UCSF and other researchers indicate.