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Biology Summative: Telomeres, Telomerase, And Cancer

1114 words - 5 pages

In current society, cancer is one of the most fatal and prevalent diseases to exist. However, new research being conducted on telomeres and telomerase provides insight on not only the aging process and mortality of cells, but also on how the idea of cell death connects to cancer cells. By gaining knowledge on the supposed immortality of cancer cells, researchers are acquiring a higher understanding of the subject, and attempting to work on alternate techniques to provide treatment for the illness. The connection between telomeres and cancer and the momentous discoveries being made on them is revolutionizing the world through potential current and future applications that have significant ...view middle of the document...

This link can be further proven by a study that was performed on cancer cells, using the telomerase repeat amplification protocol (TRAP), which proved the increased activity of telomerase5. Another study conducted on human melanoma suggested the link between telomerase activity and cancer; it was discovered that a mutation on the promoter region of a telomere length regulating gene acts as a cancer drivers6, 7. Thus, there is a definite connection between telomeres, telomerase, and cancer.
Secondly, the knowledge of this link led to significant implications and applications for cancer treatment, which are highlighted through recent and important discoveries. First of all, current methods of cancer treatment are unreliable; both chemotherapy and radiotherapy have dangerous side effects, including second cancers12, 13. As a result, vigorous research is being conducted in using the connection between telomeres and cancer to treat the illness. One potential solution that scientists discovered is the use of telomerase inhibitors, which would actively inhibit the enzyme10. An experimental anticancer technique that Geron researchers tested is a mixture of the drug Alkeran and an anti-telomerase agent GRN163L10. The drugs hindered the development precancerous cells, and even fought real cancers10. In another experiment, scientists inhibited telomerase activity in a cancer by building complementary RNA strands of the telomerase production gene, which would attach to the telomerase mRNA and obstruct the process9. The attachment of these antisense molecules led to the shortening of the telomeres in the cancer cells; after around 23 cell divisions, more than half of the cancer cells died9. However, blocking telomerase activity comes with consequences. Scientists have determined that small amounts of telomerase exist in skin cells, blood cells, and reproductive cells11. Thus, side effects of telomerase blocking cancer treatment would be infertility, and impaired production of blood cells and cells of the immune system11. Furthermore, even if telomerase inhibitors are not used for cancer treatment, the levels of the enzyme in cells can be used as diagnostic markers for cancer5. Thus, the connection between cancer and telomeres has led to significant new discoveries, new applications, and implications for cancer treatment.
Lastly, research in the field of telomeres and cancer has significant implications in society, the economy, and technology. The research is being used to provide more effective cancer treatment. Cancer is a...

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