Re: Life in the Lab -- Fox and the Nobel Prize
Tue, 4 May 1999 22:45:16 EDT

In a message dated 5/4/99 7:11:39 AM Mountain Daylight Time, writes:

> Do Fox's protocells age? Do they die?

Are you suggesting that if they did not, they would not be alive? You are
confusing macrobiology with microbilogy. Unicellular organisms do not age in
the sense that animals and plants do. They grow, mature, reproduce, but they
do not grow old. Even if they are prevented from reproducing they die only
if directly killed (poisoned, starved, dehydrated, cooked, irradiated, etc.)
or if one of their genetic self-destruct mechanisms are activated. The same
is true for an animal or plant tissue cell, the only difference being that
their self-destruct mechanisms tend to self-activate on a regular schedule.
If, however, you can eliminate the self-activation mechanism(s), then the
tissue cell would be virtually immortal, like a cancer cell.

Like cells and unicellular organisms, Fox's protocells can be directly killed
and they are capable of self-destruction, but like cells and unicellular
organisms they do not age, nor do they die if they get too old.

Kevin L. O'Brien