Scientists have used a technique called RNA interference to impair cancer cells ability to produce a key enzyme called telomerase. The enzyme, present in most major types of cancer cells, gives cells the lethal ability to divide rampantly without dying. The laboratory experiments create an opportunity for researchers who are focusing on telomerase in a bid to develop a drug like none ever developed - one capable of killing 85 percent of cancers
The research, led by Peter T. Rowley, M.D., of the University of Rochester Medical Center, is being presented today at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.
The enzyme telomerase produces telomeres, located at the ends of each chromosome, which protect the ends of chromosomes as cells divide. In a normal cell, the telomeres shorten each time the cell divides. After a cell divides 50 to 100 times, the telomeres shorten so much that they can no longer protect the chromosome, and the cell eventually dies.
Christopher DiFrancesco | EurekAlert!
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