Is telomerase a viable target in cancer?

C. M. Buseman, W. E. Wright, J. W. Shay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ideal cancer treatment would specifically target cancer cells yet have minimal or no adverse effects on normal somatic cells. Telomerase, the ribonucleoprotein reverse transcriptase that maintains the ends of human chromosome, is an attractive cancer therapeutic target for exactly this reason [1]. Telomerase is expressed in more than 85% of cancer cells, making it a nearly universal cancer marker, while the majority of normal somatic cells are telomerase negative. Telomerase activity confers limitless replicative potential to cancer cells, a hallmark of cancer which must be attained for the continued growth that characterizes almost all advanced neoplasms [2]. In this review we will summarize the role of telomeres and telomerase in cancer cells, and how properties of telomerase are being exploited to create targeted cancer therapies including telomerase inhibitors, telomerase-targeted immunotherapies and telomerase-driven virotherapies. A frank and balanced assessment of the current state of telomerase inhibitors with caveats and potential limitations will be included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-97
Number of pages8
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Volume730
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

Keywords

  • Immunotherapy
  • Senescence
  • Telomeres
  • Virotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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