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Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2005 Nov;5(6):907-16.

Telomerase: is it the future diagnostic and prognostic tool in human cancer?

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Advanced Medical & Dental institute, University Sains Malaysia, Komplex Eureka, 11800 USM, Penang, Malaysia.


A number of methods exist to detect levels of telomerase activity and the presence of telomerase subunits in a variety of tissues. As telomerase activation seems to be an important step in tumorigenesis, accurate detection of the presence and activity of the enzyme and its subunits is vital. The original method of detecting telomerase activity was developed by Kim and coworkers in 1994, and was termed the telomeric repeat amplification protocol. This assay led to a staggering increase in the number of telomerase-associated publications in scientific journals (85 publications from 1974-1994, 5063 publications from 1994-2004). A number of methods have been described to detect telomeres and to measure their length, with the standard measurement of telomere length performed using a modification of the Southern blot protocol. RNA in situ hybridization can be performed to detect levels of the RNA component of telomerase, and standard in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry can be applied to examine expression levels and localization of the catalytic subunit of the enzyme. Reverse transcriptase PCR has also been applied to assess expression levels of the telomerase components in various tissues. This review provides a synopsis of telomeres, telomerase, telomerase and cancer, and finally, methods for the detection of telomerase in cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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