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J Mol Med (Berl). 1997 Jan;75(1):45-9.

Telomerase activation and cancer.

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98104, USA.


Normal human cells have a limited life span in culture. It is generally believed that progression of cells to malignancy requires an overriding of this natural program of cellular senescence. An understanding of the genes controlling senescence will likely be valuable in determining the underlying mechanisms of abnormal cell growth and carcinogenesis. The hypothesis that telomeres play an integral role in cell senescence and immortalization has recently received much attention. This review discusses some of the current literature pertaining to how telomeres and activation of telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein that synthesizes telomere repeats, are believed to be involved in the process of immortalization. It also discusses how a further understanding of the telomerase enzyme may lead to better diagnostic and treatment strategies for a variety of cancer types.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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