Telomere Science Library

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about the Nobel-Prize Winning Science of Telomere Biology

A novel telomerase substrate precursor rapidly induces telomere dysfunction in telomerase positive cancer cells but not telomerase silent normal cells.

Authors: Ilgen I. Mender, Sergei S. Gryaznov, Jerry W JW. Shay
Published: 08/22/2015, Oncoscience


Although telomerase is an almost universal target for cancer therapy, there has been no effective telomerase targeted inhibitor that has progressed to late stage human clinical trials. Recently, we reported that a telomerase-mediated telomere-disrupting compound, 6-thio-2'-deoxyguanosine (6-thio-dG), was very effective at targeting telomerase positive cancer cells while sparing telomerase silent normal cells. 6-thio-dG, a nucleoside analogue of the already-approved drug 6-thioguanine, is incorporated into telomeres by telomerase, resulting in disruption of the telomere-protecting shelterin complex. This disruption leads to Telomere dysfunction-Induced Foci (TIFs) formation and rapid cell death for the vast majority of cancer cells. Since most chemotherapies eventually fail due to drug acquired resistance, novel drugs such as 6-thio-dG, as a single first line agent or in the maintenance setting, may represent an effective new treatment for cancer patients.