Telomere Science Library

Publications, Presentations, and Videos
about the Nobel-Prize Winning Science of Telomere Biology

Telomeres in Disease

The Scientist

The ends of linear chromosomes have attracted serious scientific study—and Nobel Prizes—since the early 20th century. Called telomeres, these ends serve to protect the coding DNA of the genome. When a cell’s telomeres shorten to critical lengths, the cell senesces. Thus, telomeres dictate a cell’s life span—unless something goes wrong. Work over the past several decades has revealed an active, though limited, mechanism for the normal enzymatic repair of telomere loss in certain proliferative cells.[1. E.H. Blackburn et al., “Telomeres and telomerase: the path from maize, Tetrahymena and yeast to human cancer and aging,” Nat Med, 12:1133-38, 2006.] Telomere lengthening in cancer cells, however, confers an abnormal proliferative ability.

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