In collaboration with an international research team, University of Copenhagen researchers have for the first time mapped telomerase, an enzyme which has a kind of rejuvenating effect on normal cell ageing. The findings have just been published in Nature Genetics and are a step forward in the fight against cancer.
Mapping the cellular fountain of youth telomerase. This is one of the results of a major research project involving more than 1,000 researchers worldwide, four years of hard work, DKK 55 million from the EU and blood samples from more than 200,000 people. This is the largest collaboration project ever to be conducted within cancer genetics.
Stig E. Bojesen, a researcher at the Faculty of Health and Medicial Sciences, University of Copenhagen, and staff specialist at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, has headed the efforts to map telomerase an enzyme capable of creating new ends on cellular chromosomes, the so-called telomeres. In other words, a kind of cellular fountain of youth.
"We have discovered that differences in the telomeric gene are associated both with the risk of various cancers and with the length of the telomeres. The surprising finding was that the variants that caused the diseases were not the same as the ones which changed the length of the telomeres. This suggests that telomerase plays a far more complex role than previously assumed" says Stig E. Bojesen.
The mapping of telomerase is an important discovery, because telomerase is one of the very basic enzymes in cell biology. It relengthens the telomeres so that they get the same length as before embarking on cell division.
-The mapping of telomerase may, among other things, boost our knowledge of cancers and their treatment, and with the new findings the genetic correlation between cancer and telomere length has been thoroughly illustrated for the first time, says Stig E. Bojesen.
|Contact: Stig E. Bojesen|
University of Copenhagen