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Telomere Maintenance Mechanisms in Cancer: Clinical Implications

[ Vol. 20 , Issue. 41 ]


Roger R. Reddel   Pages 6361 - 6374 ( 14 )


The presence of immortal cell populations with an up-regulated telomere maintenance mechanism (TMM) is an almost universal characteristic of cancers, whereas normal somatic cells are unable to prevent proliferation-associated telomere shortening and have a limited proliferative potential. TMMs and related aspects of telomere structure and function therefore appear to be ideal targets for the development of anticancer therapeutics. Such treatments would be targeted to a specific cancer-related molecular abnormality, and also be broad-spectrum in that they would be expected to be potentially applicable to most cancers. However, the telomere biology of normal and malignant human cells is a relatively young research field with large numbers of unanswered questions, so the optimal design of TMM-targeted therapeutic approaches remains unclear. This review outlines the opportunities and challenges presented by telomeres and TMMs for clinical management of cancer.


Alternative lengthening of telomeres, cancer, diagnosis, prognosis, telomerase, telomeres, therapy.


Children's Medical Research Institute, 214 Hawkesbury Road, Westmead, New South Wales 2145, Australia.

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