GWEN SHOCKEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GWEN SHOCKEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration of chromosomes with telomeres. Chromosomes are composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) (gold ribbon inside chromosome) that contain sections, called genes, which encode the body's genetic information. Telomeres (red area) protect the ends of the chromosome and play a key role in cell aging. As cells replicate and age the telomere steadily shrinks. When the telomere reaches a certain length the cell stops dividing and dies.
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