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Early detection of carcinoma of uterine cervix

Detection of carcinoma of uterine cervix at the very early stage is possible by the telomerase enzyme activity.

This conclusion was made by specialists of the Lomonosov Moscow State University and the N.N. Blokhin Russian Oncological Research Center, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, after they have investigated several dozens of this tumor samples caused by papilloma viruses.

Telomerase is the enzyme that enables the cell division for unlimited number of times. Civilized cells are capable to undergo no more than 30 to 50 divisions, and they die after that. This is due to the fact that each chromosome’s ends represent recurrent sequences (telomers). With each division, the telomer length is decreases, and when it reaches the critical value, cells lose the ability for further division. However, the telomerase enzyme works in some cells, lengthening chromosome ends and allowing the cells to divide infinitely. The telomerase acts like this in stem cells and in germ line cells, in immortal cell lines cultivated in laboratories, as well as in the majority of cancer cells (80 to 90 percent). The enzyme activity could serve as a universl marker for cancer early detection, if it were not one “but”. Some types of malignant cells maintain a constant length of their telomer by means of a different mechanism, without telomerase participation. Therefore, the question whether the telomerase enzyme can be used as an “ alarm signal” should be resolves separately for each type of tumor.

The researchers used as investigation matter 28 tumor samples received from cervical carcinoma patients. All cases were caused by papilloma viruses. The major part of tumors were at early stages but some of them had metastases in lymph nodes. For reference, the researchers used non-cancerous growth cervical tumor.

The researchers discovered telomerase activity in all cancerous growth samples, even at the earliest stages. In the non-cancerous tumor sample, telomerase activity is practically absent. Consequently, cancer cells of this type provide for their “immortality” particularly with the help of telomerase. The researchers did not discover distinctions between cervical tumors from patients with metastases and without them, therefore, it will be impossible to determine the stage of disease by telomerase activity. But it is quite expedient to use the enzyme’s activity as a tumor marker to “catch” it at an early stage.

Nadezda Markina | alfa
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