telomerase: a new perspective

From: Don Klemencic (
Date: Mon Aug 21 2000 - 00:15:16 MDT

There is research news from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, associated
with Harvard University:
and reported in Science Daily:

In aging humans tumors tend to appear in epithelial tissue. Because of a
lack of telomerase, when telomeres have been used up, cell division leads to
massive chromosomal damage. These cells enter a state called 'crisis'. If
they then regain the ability to make telomerase, these genetically damaged
cells move toward a cancerous state.

Normal mice produce telomerase in the epithelial tissues. Although they get
other kinds of cancers, they don't develop cancers like those seen in aging
humans. When knockout mice were created that did not produce telomerase in
the epithelial tissues, they exhibited cancer development like that seen in
aging humans.

This strikes me as very good news. It appears that the 'dark side' of
telomerase is manifested only when cells regain telomerase after having been
previously damaged by its absence. That seems to brighten considerably the
prospect of using telomerase as a component in an anti-aging therapy.

                                                                        Don Klemencic

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