The Relationship Between Cancer and Telomeres

Montana Fulton


Cancerous cells are normal cells that have undergone some kind of mutation or experienced some form of damage that results in the unchecked and out of control growth. In normal cells the ends of chromosomes are protected by a protein complex cap, known as a telomere, that functions to protect the cell from damage. The production of telomeres is regulated by the enzyme telomerase. As cells age the length of telomeres shortens, but for cancer cells, achievements have been made so that they can make all the telomerase they need to continue replicating out of control. Having identified this mechanism within cancer cells, researchers have attempted to target telomerase as a method of therapy in cancer treatment in the form of vaccines and chemical inhibitors that degrade telomerase and the ability of cancerous cells to utilize the enzyme for proliferation.

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