Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

2nd IFOM-IEO Campus Meeting on Cancer - New therapeutic anti-cancer strategies: shortening telomeres

08.05.2006


Without the enzyme that “regenerates” telomeres (the ends of DNA), stem cells lose functionality and the organism rapidly ages, while it acquires cancer resistance. The finding, which has significant implications in cancer and aging research, was presented yesterday at the 2nd IFOM-IEO Campus Meeting on Cancer (May 5th – 8th, IFOM-IEO Campus, Milan, Italy) by Marìa A. Blasco, of the Spanish National Cancer Center (CNIO) in Madrid (Spain).



Our cells’ DNA has a sort of “tail”: the telomeres. Every time our cells divide, telomeres get shorter and shorter. This progressive telomere shortening is compensated by the action of a specific enzyme, called “telomerase”, which is able to regenerate the tails; but in our cells there is not enough telomerase to keep telomeres at a constant length during our lifetime. And when telomeres get too short, cells stop replicating. Scientists have long hypothesized (and partially proved, with several experiments) that telomere shortening is correlated, on the one hand, to the general aging of the body (when many cells in a tissue stop replicating, the tissue becomes unable to regenerate itself and gets “old”) and, on the other hand, to cancer (tumour cells replicate much more than normal cells, therefore they need some mechanism to counteract natural telomere shortening).

To make the picture even more complicated, stem cells (the other big “stars” of modern biology research) might be the only cells that are able to produce the enzyme telomerase. Intuitively this makes sense, since stem cells are the “mother cells” of all cells, and they are necessary to the body to regenerate tissues and organs during lifetime. But, what is the role of telomerase in stem cells? And what could happen if the enzyme is absent? To answer these questions, Blasco and colleagues set up a series of experiments in mice. And they found that the lack of telomerase causes a severe defect in the fundamental functions of stem cells. “In particular – Blasco said – we have been looking at skin stem cells. And we observed that, in genetically modified mice that did not express telomerase, stem cells lost their functionality and became unable to regenerate the damaged epithelial tissue. On the whole, these mice aged more rapidly than normal mice. But, there was a very interesting side effect: without telomerase, mice showed a marked cancer resistance.” Further experiments on telomeres structure showed that every time the shortening process is altered, the result is either “early aging and cancer resistance” (if shortening is boosted), or “aging inhibition and more cancer occurrence” (if shortening is reduced).


“In our lab – Blasco added – we do basic research, but our results provide fundamental knowledge to those who work on the development of new therapeutic tools. In this very moment, preclinical trials are being carried out on drugs that are able to boost the action of telomerase. The potential anti-aging effect of these drugs might prove useful in the treatment of diseases such as AIDS, where tissues age rapidly. In tumours, it is necessary to implement the opposite strategy: there are drugs, now in clinical trials, that inhibit telomerase action and increase telomeres shortening.” In the light of the new finding, such therapy might prove to be effective against cancer stem cells, that today are considered the most “malignant” culprit of cancer.

Francesca Noceti | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ifom-ieo-campus.it
http://www.semm.it/meeting/cancer06/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Indications of Psychosis Appear in Cortical Folding
26.04.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Why we need erasable MRI scans

New technology could allow an MRI contrast agent to 'blink off,' helping doctors diagnose disease

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

World's smallest optical implantable biodevice

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Molecular evolution: How the building blocks of life may form in space

26.04.2018 | Life Sciences

First Li-Fi-product with technology from Fraunhofer HHI launched in Japan

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>