Exploring a Cell’s Life

2000

Whether plant, animal or human, we all share a gene that has the power of life or death over our cells. This gene encodes a protein that works like a biological switch, either cutting short or prolonging a cell’s life. University of Waterloo biologist John Thompson made this important discovery in 2000 and went on to co-found a company to put his finding to good use in agriculture and medicine.

Technology stemming from this discovery could result in a new therapy for cancer. Animal studies suggest it could be used to selectively kill cancer cells, leading to complete tumour regression. Thompson’s finding could also delay the spoilage of fresh produce by delaying cell death. Field studies show a 100 per cent increase in the shelf life of bananas.

John Thompson »