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Mol Biotechnol. 2003 Jul;24(3):295-301.

An introduction to telomeres and telomerase.

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Cancer Research UK Research Unit, Tom Connors Cancer Research Centre, University of Bradford, Richmond Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 1DP, UK.


It is now more than a dozen years since the enzyme telomerase was discovered, and since that time, key studies have characterized the structural components of the enzyme and the associated telomeric proteins. Since the original discovery of telomerase, a clear association with cancer has been demonstrated. In normal somatic cells the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes shorten with every cell division, whereas in cancer cells telomere length is often maintained by reactivation of the enzyme telomerase. These discoveries have led to the proposal that telomerase expression can be used as a helpful marker for diagnostic and prognostic purposes in humans. Another area of research that has developed as a result of improving knowledge and understanding of the role of telomerase in malignancy is that of cancer therapeutics. This article is an introduction to the field of telomere and telomerase research, with an introduction to recent attempts to develop novel cancer treatments based on telomerase structure and function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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