In true science-fiction story fashion the fountain of eternal life comes at a horrific cost. We've actually had immortal cells since the fifties (and this isn't leading to an Area 51 style cover-up conspiracy): the "HeLa" cells were harvested from the cervical cancer of Henrietta Lacks, a Maryland housewife who died in 1951. Scan that sentence and you'll see that it says "immortal" but still sucks very badly for the person.
The key chemical discovered by the Nobel Prize-winning trio is telomerase, the cellular equivalent of a ticketing scam. When chromosomes replicate they use use up one of their "telomeres", DNA sequences that give them permission to continue copying themselves. When they run out they die. When telomerase is around it gives them more, meaning that the automatic cellular shut-down systems stops working.
The thing is, cells don't kill themselves for fun - the reason evolution added a time-limit to life itself was that life only works for so long, to prevent flaws in the cellular replication process from continuing out of control. Which is cancer. Shut down the shutdown switch and you guarantee a tumorous future.
Which is why, in almost Star Trek fashion, scientists are instead using this incredible chemical to altruistically cure the sick instead of greedily grasping at immortality. Instead of tinkering with telomerase to turn off the clock, they're training immune cells, designing drugs and concocting chemicals to destroy the stuff instead in an effort to cure cancer.
Besides, living forever by immortalizing your cells is an idiot's idea of immortality. By that logic a properly cultivated sneeze could live forever, assuming you got the ejected cells included in the mucus into culture soon enough. "You" are your brain and - as anyone with relatives will verify - that thing stops working after a certain age. Can you imagine an eternity of asking "What's that thing there" over and over?Luke McKinney