Calvin B. Harley, Geron Corporation, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA. Oncogene, 2002.
In the decade since the telomere hypothesis of cellular aging was proposed, the two essential genes for human telomerase were cloned and characterized, allowing experimental proof of the causal relationships between telomere loss and replicative senescence, and telomerase activation and immortalization. These relationships were established using a variety of cultured human cell types from both normal and tumor tissues, and were largely confirmed in the telomerase knockout mouse. Taken together, the data provide strong support for the potential utility of telomerase detection and inhibition for cancer, and telomerase activation for degenerative diseases.