Telomeres and their effect on cancer and other diseases

Katie Moore


Cancer cells have two unique characteristics which make them stand out, these are a loss of contact inhibition and a gain of immortality. As it turns out there are many ways to achieve immortality. Senescence, polyploidy, self-renewal, and telomere length retention all seem to work together in the role of the longevity of Cancer cells (Cragg, 2013). Contact inhibition allows our cells to form layers, which in turn leads to the formation of tissue, muscle, and organs. So, with this loss of function the cells clump together in a large mass, and with immortality the cells have unlimited division/ replication potential (Chen, 2020). The main element at play in cancer is the over expression of telomerase which help retain the telomeres our cells would otherwise slowly lose (McNally,2019). Alternative pathways have been used by cancer cells to try and over come the dependance on telomerase for longevity. With this knowledge researcher have found anti-cancer therapies and vaccines (Mizukoshi, 2019) (Bajaj, 2020). These therapies target telomerase and its components to try and fight the cancer cells. There are also vaccines which aim to trigger an immune response to kill tumors (Mizukoshi, 2019). As Mizukoshi and Kaneko have found in their research, and with the normal methods of cancer treatments, it takes more than one type of therapy to combat the tumors/ cancers. My main concern is the side effects, what are they? How severe are they? Could these therapies have the same or similar body degrading effects of radiation and chemotherapies?

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