Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Telomere length linked to cancer

Cancer cells can activate telomerase to counteract shortening, enabling them to survive and grow. Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found the correlation between telomerase activity, genomic abnormalities, and telomere length in 31 different cancers..

The authors wrote, "The telomerase enzymatic subunit, encoded by [telomerase reverse transcriptase] TERT, is transcriptionally silent in most non-neoplastic cells, but reactivation may endow a small population of cells with the ability to survive crisis, at which point they become immortalized.”

They also confirmed that approximately 90% of cancers have this ability. In their findings, telomeres were shorter in tumors and longer in sarcomas and gliomas.

It is interesting to learn of the link between TERT expression and telomerase activity with certain cancers. I found data suggesting telomere length control the aging process to some degree, but this also sheds more light into the topic showing that the push for telomeres may be a double edged sword. While there are indications of healthy telomere length to health, now we see how it relates with cancer and how some cancers make them longer for their own survival.

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