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"There’s a hidden clock that underlies every process of every living thing — from when our cells start dividing to how quickly we age. Researchers at Darpa, the Pentagon’s extreme science agency, believes they can find it, using a mash-up of biology, code-cracking, mathematics and computer science.

If the effort succeeds — and, boy, is that a big if — the recently announced Biochronicity program could help us understand why cancer is so hard to beat, how stem cells self renew and why cells are programmed to die. In other words, it’ll be one of the biggest breakthroughs Darpa has ever had."
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"For the biological processes where timing plays an obvious role, such as aging or cancer, we still don’t have a clear sense of when — or why — they take place. Scientists know that certain bits of DNA on the end of chromosomes called “telomeres” shorten each time the cell divides, playing a role in cell aging and eventual cell death. They also are pretty sure that normal cells turn into cancer through a series of mutations that interfere with error-correcting and normal tissue growth. Yet precisely when a cell will reach its pre-programmed death or when a cancer cell will begin to replicate is still unknown."
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