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New telomere discovery could help explain why cancer cells never stop dividing
Date:10/4/2007

is transcribed from DNA on the telomere.

Why is this important" In embryonic cells (and some stem cells), an enzyme called telomerase rebuilds the telomere so that the cells can keep dividing. Over time, this telomerase dwindles and eventually the telomere shortens and the cell becomes inactive. In cancer cells, the telomerase enzyme keeps rebuilding telomeres long past the cells normal lifetime. The cells become immortal, endlessly dividing, resulting in a tumor. Researchers estimate that telomere maintenance activity occurs in about 90% of human cancers. But the mechanism by which this maintenance takes place is not well understood. The researchers discovered that the RNA in the telomere is regulated by a protein in the telomerase enzyme. Their discovery may thus uncover key elements of telomere function.

Its too early to give yet a definitive answer, to whether this could lead to new cancer therapies, notes Joachim Lingner, senior author on the paper. But the experiments published in the paper suggest that telomeric RNA may provide a new target to attack telomere function in cancer cells to stop their growth.


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Contact: Joachim Lingner
joachim.lingner@isrec.ch
41-216-925-912
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne
Source:Eurekalert

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