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Future Oncol. 2009 Mar;5(2):163-7. doi: 10.2217/14796694.5.2.163.

Telomerase structure paves the way for new cancer therapies.

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Gene Expression & Regulation Program, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Inappropriate activation of a single enzyme, telomerase, is associated with the uncontrollable proliferation of cells observed in as many as 90% of all of human cancers. Since the mid-1990s, when telomerase activity was detected in human tumors, scientists have eyed the enzyme as an ideal target for developing broadly effective anticancer drugs. One of the missing links in the effort to identify such therapies has been the high-resolution structure of the enzyme, a powerful tool used for the identification and development of clinical drugs. A recent structure of the catalytic subunit of teleomerase from the Skordalakes laboratory, a major advancement in the field of telomeres, has opened the door to the development of new, broadly effective cancer drugs, as well as anti-aging therapies. Here we present a brief description of telomerase biology, current efforts to identify telomerase function modulators and the potential importance of the telomerase structure in future drug development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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