Telomere length is of interest because the length of telomeres is directly related to the life cycle of somatic cells. Somatic cells are cells of the body that don’t normally contain the telomerase enzyme that can lengthen the telomere.
Sperm, egg, and some stem cells contain the telomere enzyme but the enzyme is limited in other cells, which lets the somatic cels age and die.
Telomere length is associated with the length of life of a cell because when the telomere is shortened to a certain length the cell can no longer replicate and this leads to the aging of the cell, cell death, or the transformation of the cell into a cancer cell.
Telomeres are caps on the end of chromosomes of cells. Telomeres severe to protect the genetic information of the cell by serving as caps that protect the chromosomes from unravelling.
If the chromosomes were to unravelling the DNA that contains the genetic information of the cells would bind to other chromosomes and would corrupt the cells genetic data and cell function. The telomeres protect against this.
This issue with telomere length is every time a cell divides and the chromosomes are copied, sections at the end of the chromosomes are lost resulting in shortened telomeres after every cell division.
When the protective caps are shortened to a certain length, the cell can no longer divide, which results in the aging of the cell, cell death, or a the transformation of the cell into a cancer cell.
There is interest in controlling telomere length and extending it because that would result in prolonging the life of the cell and hold of aging.