Researchers uncover new cancer cell vulnerability

July 18, 2014, Yale University
Researchers uncover new cancer cell vulnerability
Chromosomes (in blue) and their telomores (in red). Credit: Lab of Narenda Wajepeyee, Yale School of Medicine

(Medical Xpress)—Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center researchers have uncovered a genetic vulnerability of cancer cells that express telomerase—an enzyme that drives their unchecked growth—and showed that telomerase-expressing cells depend upon a gene named p21 for their survival.

Authors found that simultaneous inhibition of both telomerase and p21 inhibited tumor growth in mice. The is overexpressed in over 90% of human cancers, but not in normal cells, and expression of telomerase is necessary to initiate and promote cancer growth. In this study, the Yale team, led by first author Romi Gupta and corresponding author Narendra Wajapeyee of the Department of Pathology, showed how new pharmacological drug combinations can be applied to simultaneously target both telomerase and p21 to induce cell death in telomerase-expressing .

Finally, the authors also showed that their approach is also applicable for p53 mutant cancers if telomerase and p21 inhibition is combined with pharmacological restoration of p53 tumor suppressor activity. The study, which could open doors to novel therapies for telomerase inhibition, appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Explore further: Researchers identify new potential target for cancer therapy

More information: Romi Gupta, Yuying Dong, Peter D. Solomon, Hiromi I. Wettersten, Christopher J. Cheng, JIn-Na Min, Jeremy Henson, Shaillay Kumar Dogra, Sung H. Hwang, Bruce D. Hammock, Lihua J. Zhu, Roger R. Reddel, W. Mark Saltzman, Robert H. Weiss, Sandy Chang, Michael R. Green, and Narendra Wajapeyee. "Synergistic tumor suppression by combined inhibition of telomerase and CDKN1A." PNAS 2014 ; published ahead of print July 14, 2014, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1411370111

Related Stories

Researchers identify new potential target for cancer therapy

April 19, 2013
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that alternative splicing – a process that allows a single gene to code for multiple proteins – appears to be a new potential target for anti-telomerase cancer ...

Protein 'motif' crucial to telomerase activity

September 19, 2013
It is difficult to underestimate the importance of telomerase, an enzyme that is the hallmark of both aging and the uncontrolled cell division associated with cancer. In an effort to understand and control telomerase activity, ...

Research reveals how cancer-driving enzyme works

May 6, 2011
Cancer researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center are helping unlock the cellular-level function of the telomerase enzyme, which is linked to the disease's growth.

Fanning the flames of tumor growth: Enzyme responsible for protecting chromosome ends stimulates tumorigenesis

February 27, 2013
Chromosomes are capped by long, repetitive DNA sequences called telomeres. These caps prevent genomic damage by insulating against the steady shortening of DNA ends that naturally accompanies replication. Once mature, cells ...

Recommended for you

Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant

January 23, 2018
A study headed by ICREA researcher Roger Gomis at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) has identified the genes involved in the latent asymptomatic state of breast cancer metastases. The work sheds light ...

Scientists block the siren call of two aggressive cancers

January 23, 2018
Aggressive cancers like glioblastoma and metastatic breast cancer have in common a siren call that beckons the bone marrow to send along whatever the tumors need to survive and thrive.

Boosting cancer therapy with cross-dressed immune cells

January 22, 2018
Researchers at EPFL have created artificial molecules that can help the immune system to recognize and attack cancer tumors. The study is published in Nature Methods.

Workouts may boost life span after breast cancer

January 22, 2018
(HealthDay)—Longer survival after breast cancer may be as simple as staying fit, new research shows.

Cancer patients who tell their life story find more peace, less depression

January 22, 2018
Fifteen years ago, University of Wisconsin–Madison researcher Meg Wise began interviewing cancer patients nearing the end of life about how they were living with their diagnosis. She was surprised to find that many asked ...

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mrdingdong
not rated yet Jul 18, 2014
This is old news. Actually they tested two vaccine based on Telomerase; Imatelstat and Telovac both of which failed. If anyone has any update let me know.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.