Telomerase in cancer and aging

Meaghan P. Granger, Woodring E. Wright, Jerry W. Shay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

131 Scopus citations


The telomere-telomerase hypothesis is the science of cellular aging (senescence) and cancer. The ends of chromosomes, telomeres, count the number of divisions a cell can undergo before entering permanent growth arrest. As divisions are being counted, events occur on the cellular and molecular level, which may either delay or hasten this arrest. As humans age, a particular concern is the accumulation of events that lead to the progression of cancer. Telomerase is a mechanism that most normal cells do not possess, but almost all cancer cells acquire, to overcome their mortality and extend their lifespan. This review aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the role of telomerase in cancer development, progression, diagnosis, and in the future, treatment. The ultimate goal of telomerase research is to use our understanding to develop anti-telomerase therapies, an almost universal tumor target.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 21 2002



  • Cancer
  • Immunosenescence
  • Replicative aging
  • Senescence
  • Telomerase
  • Telomerase inhibitors
  • Telomere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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