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Acta Biochim Pol. 1996;43(3):531-8.

Telomerase as a therapeutic target.

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Institute of Human Genetics, Polish Academy of Sciences, PoznaƄ, Poland.


Ribonucleoprotein telomerase is an enzyme that elongates telomeric DNA. In cells without detectable telomerase activity telomeres shorten with every cell generation and reaching critical length is a signal for cell death. Normal human somatic cells express undetectable, or low (bone marrow and peripheral leukocytes), telomerase activity. Reactivation of telomerase (immortalization) is probably necessary during development of a fully malignant cancer. Consequently, telomerase was proposed to be a therapeutic target for the cancer therapy. Potential results (including side-effects) of telomerase inhibition are being considered. After all, telomerase inhibition can be useful not only in the therapy, but also in cancer biology research, elucidating ageing and immortalization phenomena.

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