The Notes


The book, The Immortal Cell, represents an attempt to draw a limited synthesis between such disparate areas of human thought as ancient mythology and modern molecular biology.  As a result, Dr. West has utilized far too many sources to give adequate credit in his book.  Some excellent examples are highlighted in "Further Reading" of his book, and some others are cited as follows:













     --     Immortality and Religion:

     --     Gerontology:

     --     Embryology and Ethics:



vii    “of comfort no man speak” Shakespeare, King Richard II, III. ii. 144.

viii.     Appointment in Samarra: W. Somerset Maugham, quoted in J. O’Hara, Appointment in Samarra, (New York: Signet Books, 1950).

ix     “What is the sound I make”: B.K Smith, 1973. An Old Woman Speaks, in Aging in America, (Boston: Beacon, 1973).

xi     “The heart does not grow old”: Victor Hugo, In Voltaire’s Correspondence ed. Theodore Besterman (Paris: Gallimard, 1975)

xi     “The word is in my heart”: Jeremiah 20: 9 (New International Version)

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3     H.G. Wells’s story: H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, (New York: Bantam Books, 1991).

4     what we call human therapeutic cloning: R.P. Lanza, J.B. Cibelli, and M.D. West, 1999. Human therapeutic cloning. Nature Medicine 5(9): 975-977.

7     “industrial exploitation of human life”: K. Dunn, Cloning Trevor, Atlantic Monthly, June, 2002.

7     “cloned human embryo farms”: K. Dunn, ibid

7     “The Creator that our founders”: K. Dunn, ibid

8     Teru succeeded in cloning: T. Wakayama, et al, Full-term development of mice from enucleated oocytes injected with cumulus cell nuclei, Nature July 23, 1998, 394(6691): 369-74.

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17     “A reverence for Life”: The phrase “reverence for life” was introduced by Albert Schweitzer to refer to his proposed foundation of ethical philosophy. Schweitzer suggested that instead of Descarte’s cogito ergo sum, mankind would do better to build philosophy on a recognition of the “will-to-live”. He wrote, “Thus, if we ask, ‘What is the immediate fact of my consciousness? What do I self-consciously know of myself, making abstractions of all else, from childhood to old age? To what do I always return?’ we find the simple fact of consciousness is this I will to live. Through every stage of life, this is the one thing I know about myself. I do not say, ‘I am life’; for life continues to be a mystery too great to understand. I only know that I cling to it. I fear its cessation – death. I dread its diminution – pain. I seek its enlargement – joy.” (from A. Schweitzer, The Ethics of Reverence for Life, in H. Clark, The Ethical Mysticism of Albert Schweitzer, (Boston: Beacon, 1962) 180-194.

20     “Religion in fact, for the great majority”: William James. The Varieties of Religious Experience. (Longmans, Green, 1910) 524.

23     “true science is but an interpretation”: Ellen G. White Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View: Pacific Press, 1980) 599.

24     progression of human fossils: An important principle that strongly supports the theory of evolution and argues against the theory of special creation is the progression of life in the fossil record. Often attributed to Charles Lyell, this principle is based on the observation that the percentage of extant taxa progressively decreases as one observes fossils from older and older strata (see J.L. Cutbill & B.M. Funnell, Numerical Analysis of the Fossil Record, In: The Fossil Record, (Eds. W.B. Harland, C.H. Holland, M.R. House, N.F. Hughes, A.B. Reynolds, M.J.S. Rudwick, G.E. Satterthwaite, L.B.H. Tarlo, and E.C. Wiley) (London, Geological Society of London, 1967) 791-820.)

27     the myth of Osiris: E.A.Wallis Budge, Osiris: The Egyptian Religion of Resurrection. (New York: University Books, 1961)

28     “Osiris is being buried”: Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 65, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936).

28     “Homage to thee”: E.A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Dead. (London, England, Arkana, 1923)

31     “If we are not struck down”: Lewis Thomas, President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Professor of Pathology & Medicine, Cornell University College of Medicine, Spoken at American College of Surgeons, Houston, Texas, March 27, 1974

32     Thereby breaking the state’s Butler Act:: In 1925 the State of Tennessee passed the Butler Act which made it unlawful for any university professor or public school teacher “to teach any theory that denies the story of divine creation as taught by the Bible and to teach instead that man was descended from a lower order of animals.” The law set a penalty of not less than $100 nor more than $500. This was a significant sum given that the average annual pay for a school teacher was $634.

32     McLean vs. Arkansas, 1981: Research materials on the trial can be found at

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40     “Unicellular organisms… increase by means”: August Weismann, Essays upon heredity and kindred biological problems. vol. I. (London, England, Clarendon Press, 1891) p72-73.

41     The Evolutionary Origin of Aging: Figure 3 was redrawn after the illustration provided by August Weismann in Essays upon heredity and kindred biological problems. vol. I. (London, England, Clarendon Press, 1891) p207.

43     much more clumsy theory, advanced by Charles Darwin: Darwin called his awkward mechanism of heredity “pangenesis” to distinguish it from Aristotle’s “epigenesis”. It was Darwin’s best attempt to explain is how the germ cells and only the germ cells “knew” how to make a baby of the same species as its parents. He proposed that the body cells, we could use the example of liver cells for instance, could not form a baby because they only had a small snippet of the blueprint, that which told the liver cell how to do its own job in making blood proteins, and so on. The germ cells, however, had the totality of the blueprint. Darwin surmised that every generation all of these pieces of the blueprint were “mailed” though the blood in packages he called “gemmules” and assembled in the germ cells restoring the total picture of human life, thereby creating a new young life. This is consistent with the ancient conception that the regenerating power of immortal life is in the blood.

44     “The Duration of Life”: August Weismann in Essays upon heredity and kindred biological problems. vol. I. (London, England, Clarendon Press, 1891) p5-66.

44     “Death takes place because”: August Weismann in Essays upon heredity and kindred biological problems. vol. I. (London, England, Clarendon Press, 1891) p 21-22.

44     “I am unable to indicate”: August Weismann in Essays upon heredity and kindred biological problems. vol. I. (London, England, Clarendon Press, 1891) p 29.

45     “On the Permanent Life of Tissues”: A. Carrel, 1912. On the permanent life of tissues outside of the organism. J. Exp. Med. 15: 516-527

46     “Ebeling remarked that”: L. Hayflick, How and Why We Age, (New York, Ballantine Books, 1994) p 113-114.

48     “It is possible that”: G. Gey, Cancer Cell Research: The Way of All Flesh, Films for the Humanities and Sciences.

49     “Well, Len, maybe your cells”: Vincent Cristofalo, personal communication.

52     “The largest fact to have”: P. Rous, letter to Leonard Hayflick, ___

53     “In 1969, Sam put skin cells”: Goldstein, S. 1969. Lifespan of cells in progeria, Lancet, 1(7591): 424.

54     the swapping of old nuclei: W.E. Wright and L. Hayflick, 1975. Nuclear Control of cellular Aging demonstrated by hybridization of anucleate and whole cultured normal human fibroblasts. Exp. Cell Res. 96(1): 113-121.

55     “I am what I am”: J. Riemer Jewish Insights on Death and Mourning. (New York: Schocken Books, 1995) p. 352.

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61     Müller published his findings: Müller, H.J., 1938. The remaking of chromosomes. Collect. Net, 13: 181-198.

63     “Loss of Reiterated DNA”: R.J. Shmookler Reis and S. Goldstein. 1980. Loss of reiterated DNA sequences during serial passage of human diploid fibroblasts. Cell, 21: 739-749.

66     “Extrachromosomal Circular Copies”: R.J. Shmookler Reis, et al, 1983. Extrachromosomal circular copies of an ‘inter-Alu’ unstable sequence in human DNA are amplified during in vitro and in vivo ageing. Nature 301(5899): 394-398.

72     In the end, it led to: R.J.Shmookler Reis et al, Amplification of inter-Alu extrachromosomal DNA during cellular ageing: retraction and explanation. Nature 316(6024): 167.

75     a type of “extreme senescence”: W. Wright et al, 1989. Reversible cellular senescence: implications for immortalization of normal human diploid fibroblasts. Mol. Cell Biol. 9(7): 3088-3092.

77     What do you think about: C.B. Harley et al, 1990. Telomeres shorten during the ageing of human fibroblasts. Nature 345(6274): 458-460.

77     published a paper with him: C.B.Harley et al, 1982. Loss of repetitious DNA in proliferating somatic cells may be due to unequal homologous recombination. J. Theor. Biol. 94: 1-12.

78     “I was simply thunderstruck”: Olovnikov, A.M. 1996. Telomeres, Telomerase, and Aging: Origin of the Theory. Exp. Gerontol. 31: 443-448.

81     “Olovnikov published his telomere”: Olovnikov, A. M. 1971. Principles of marginotomy in template synthesis of polynucleotides. Doklady Akad. Nauk SSSR, 201, 1496-1499.

81     James Watson, the codiscoverer: J.D. Watson, 1972. Origin of concatemeric T7 DNA, Nat. New Biol. 239(94): 197-201.

82     In fact, it wasn’t until: E.H. Blackburn and J.G. Gall, 1978. A Tandemly repeated sequence at the termini of the extrachromosomal ribosomal RNA genes in Tetrahymena, J. Mol. Biol. 120(1): 33-53.

83     This idea – first promoted: J. Shampay et al, 1984. DNA sequences of telomeres maintained in yeast, Nature 310(5973): 154-157.

83     Then, in 1984: C.W. Greider and E.H Blackburn, 1985. Identification of a specific telomere terminal transferase acitivity I Tetrahymena extracts. Cell, 43: 405-413.

84     I found a paper: G. Morin, 1989 The human telomere terminal transferase enzyme is a ribonuclearprotein that synthesizes TTAGGG repeats, Cell 59(3):521-529.

85     I turned the last page: H. Cooke, 1986.Variability at the telomeres of the human X/Y pseudoautosomal region, Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol, 51 Pt1:213-219.

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90       Geron appears in the: The Bible, John 3:4

104     We published our results: N. Kim, et al, 1994. Telomerase Activity is Associated with Cell Immortality and Advanced Human Carcinomas. Science, 266: 2011-2014.

105     On June 2, 1995: K. Collins et al, 1995. Purification of Tetrahymena Telomerase and Cloning of Genes Encoding the Two Protein Components of the Enzyme, Cell 81(5): 677-686.

109     This and the other data: J. Feng et al, 1995. The RNA Component of Human Telomerase. Science. 269: 1236-1241.

117     A week later our paper: Nakamura et al, Telomerase catalytic subunit homologs from fission yeast and human, Science 277(5828):955-959.

117     Weinberg’s paper, which was slated: M. Meyerson et al, 1997. hEST2, the putative human telomerase catalytic subunit gene, is up-regulated in tumor cells and during immortalization, Cell 90(4): 785-795.

117     MIT sent out their own: Newly Discovered Human Protein Provides Important Target for Cancer Therapy, Press Release from the Whitehead Institute can be found at

119     Scott Weinrich, who had: S.L. Weinrich et al, Reconstitution of human telomerase with the template RNA component hTR and the catalytic protein subunit hTRT, Nat. Genet. 17(4): 498-502.

124     Our paper was published on: A.G. Bodnar et al, 1998. Extension of cell life-span by introduction of telomerase into normal human cells. Science 279(5349): 349-352.

124     We scrambled to finalize: Geron’s press release can be found at

124     but nothing like the press release: Scientists extend the life span of human cells, UT Southwestern press release dated Jan. 13, 1998 can be found at

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131     Weinberg eventually proved: W.C. Hahn et al, 1999. Creation of human tumor cells with defined genetic elements, Nature 400(6743): 464-468.

136     In the years following: G.R. Martin, 1981. Isolation of a pluripotent cell line from early mouse embryos cultured in medium conditioned by teratocarcinoma stem cells, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 78(12): 7634-7638.

136     At about the same time: M.J. Evans and M.H. Kaufmann, Establishment in culture of pluripotential cells from mouse embryos, Nature 292: 154-156.

137     Then, in 1991, Brigid Hogan: Y. Matsui et al, 1992. Derivation of pluripotential embryonic stem cells from murine primordial germ cells in culture. Cell 70(5): 841-847 and Resnick et al, 1992. Long-term proliferation of mouse primordial germ cells in culture, Nature 359(6395): 550-551.

138     There is an area of gerontological: For a review of the history of rejuvenation science see: McGrady, P.M. The Youth Doctors, (New York, Coward-McCann, 1968) and Hamilton, D. The Monkey Gland Affair, (London, Chatto & Windus, 1986).

139     “Before beginning my formal”: McGrady, P.M. The Youth Doctors, (New York, Coward-McCann, 1968) p39.

148     Thomson was about to publish: J.A. Thomson et al, 1995. Isolation of a primate embryonic stem cell line. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 92: 7844-7848.

158     “The patiently worked out story”: W. Osler, Science and Immortality (Boston, Houghton, Mifflin, 1904).

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160     In 1984, Davor Solter: J.S. McGrath and D. Solter, 1984. Inability of mouse blastomere nuclei transferred to enucleated zygotes to support development in vitro. Science 226: 1317-1319.

165     Keith wrote up the details: I. Wilmut et al, 1997. Viable offspring derived from fetal and adult mammalian cells. Nature 385: 810-813.

179     John Gearhart had actually announced: The press release: Scientist develops viable human embryonic stem cell line was released by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on July 25, 1997 and can be accessed at

182     Ian granted an interview: I. Wilmut on BBC Today Programme can be found at

183     “I recall when the news”: Jerry Shay quoted in W. McCall Dolly the Sheep may age prematurely, The Millennia Web Magazine at

187     Our paper was set: R.P. Lanza et al, 2000. Extension of cell life-span and telomere length in animals cloned from senescent somatic cells. Science 288: 665-669.

188     In a commentary: I. Wilmut et al, 2000. Laying hold on eternal life? Nat. Biotech. 18(6): 599-600.

188     Finally, in September 2000: Wakayama et al, Cloning of mice to six generations, Nature, Sept 21, 2000, 407(6802): 318-9.

189     Later, Xiangzhong Yang: X.C. Tian et al, 2000. Normal telomere lengths found in cloned cattle. Nat. Genet. 26(3): 272-273. Subsequent confirmation of the restoration of cell lifespan following nuclear transfer in sheep came from Ian Wilmut’s lab and was published under the title Proliferative lifespan is conserved after nuclear transfer, Nature Cell Biology 5(6): 535-538 in June 2003.

189     Ron had authored: R.G. Green, The Human Embryo Research Debates, (New York, Oxford, 2001).

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211     “In the 20th century, we failed”: Paul Johnson, The Spectator, March 6, 1999.

213     “[A] fertilized embryo in a petri dish”: Edward Reichman, in Chicken and Egg: when does life begin? ABC News Online, Thursday April 11, 2002.

217     “The Immortality Project”: J. Bottum, Stopping the Future, The Weekly Standard, Vol. 7, Issue 32, April 29, 2002.

218     “Chloroform is a decoy of Satan”: B.G. Walker, The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, (San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1983), 656.

218     “The Small Pox is a judgement of God”: Mather, Increase. In: Cotton Mather and American Science and Medicine. (Ed. Cohen, I. Bernard) (New York, Arno Press, 1980).

227     A champion of the “acts against nature”: Francis Fukayama, Our Posthuman Future, (New York, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002).

232     “The thirst of eternity”: (Miguel De Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life (New York, Macmillan & Co., 1921).

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Further Readings

Immortality and Religion:

The concept of the immortality of the soul has its roots in prehistory and virtually all of the exiting world religions presuppose its validity. As mentioned to in The Immortal Cell, a family of religious systems of belief arose on the heels of the ancient Egyptian Osirian religion that are often called mystery religions. As the word implies, these religions taught that the gods had a message for mortal humans, a message kept secret from the masses (hence the use of the word mystery). In particular, these religions taught that there were lessons to be learned from the immortal renewal of life, the fact that life has an appearance of immortality in the constant succession of similar individuals. The priests of the immortality religions in ancient Greece apparently taught the mystery that this immorality was personified in the goddess of grain Persephone and the god of wine Dionysos. This logically led to the use ceremonial eating of bread and wine with the goal of partaking of the source of immortal renewal. The prominence of these beliefs in the ancient world and the parallels with modern cell biology have not been appreciated.

Much has been written regarding the ancient mystery religions; a few salient references follows:

Angus, S. The Mystery Religions and Immortality, (New York, Carol Publishing Group, 1966).

Budge, E.A. Wallis. Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection. 2 Vols. New York, Dover Publications, 1973).

Frazer, J.G. Adonis Attis Osiris: Studies in the History of Oriental Religion, (New York, Macmillan, 1935).

Meyer, M.W. The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook, (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987).

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There are numerous well-written books on aging research, from textbooks in geriatrics to monographs on the history of research in the field. Some that follow logically on the issues addressed in The Immortal Cell are:

Comfort, A. The Biology of Senenscence, 3rd Ed. (New York, Elsevier North Holland, 1979).

Hamilton, D. The Monkey Gland Affair, (London, Chatto & Windus, 1986).

Hayflick, L. How and Why We Age, (New York, Ballantine Books, 1994).

Lamont, C. The Illusion of Immortality, (London, Watts & Co., 1952).

McGrady, P.M. The Youth Doctors, (New York, Coward-McCann, 1968).

Rosenfeld, A. Prolongevity, (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1976).

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Embryology and Ethics:

The controversy generated by human embryonic stem cells and therapeutic cloning has spawned several books and scholarly papers. I find the following books to be helpful resources:

Green, R.G. The Human Embryo Research Debates, (New York, Oxford, 2001).

Larsen, W.J. Human Embryology, (New York, Churchill Livingstone, 1993).

Silver, L.M. Remaking Eden, (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998).

Wilmut, I. And K.H.M.S. Campbell, The Second Creation, (New York, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2000).

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