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Curr Pharm Des. 2002;8(27):2491-504.

Design of telomerase inhibitors for the treatment of cancer.

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Institute of Pharmacy, Chemistry and Biomedical Sciences, University of Sunderland, UK.


Telomerase is a cellular ribonucleoprotein reverse transcriptase responsible for the maintenance of telomeres, the tandemly repeating guanine-rich nucleic acid sequences at the 3'-ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve to protect chromosomal stability and maintain integrity. Telomerase enzyme activity is essential for the sustained proliferation of most immortal cells, including cancer cells, and is currently an important recognised target for the development of novel and potentially tumour-specific anticancer chemotherapeutics. Herein, we review recent advances in the design and development of telomerase inhibitors for the treatment of cancer. To date, these have included antisense strategies, reverse transcriptase inhibitors, and agents capable of interacting with high-order telomeric DNA tetraplex (or "G-quadruplex") structures in such a way as to prevent enzyme access to its required linear telomeric DNA substrate. Critical appraisal of each distinct approach is provided together with highlighted areas for continued development necessary to further refine the present disparate classes of telomerase inhibitors for use in clinically viable therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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