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Polygence Scholar2020
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Tei Kim

American School in JapanClass of 2023Shibuya-ku, Tokyo



  • "What role do telomerase play in oncogenesis? Alternatively, do they have any potential in cancer prevention or treatment?" with mentor Amy (Mar. 6, 2022)

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What role do telomerase play in oncogenesis? Alternatively, do they have any potential in cancer prevention or treatment?

Started Sept. 20, 2021

Abstract or project description

Telomeres are specialized structures that protect the tips of eukaryotic chromosomes. Telomerase is an enzyme that rebuilds telomeres and maintains genomic stability by extending telomeres after each cell division. Telomerase activity prevents cellular aging, and immortalized cell lines can be created by inducing expression of telomerase in cells that normally lack telomerase. However, activation of telomerase can often lead to cancer development by preserving genomic stability in rapidly dividing cells. In healthy cells, telomeres achieve the healthy balance between limiting cellular lifespan and keeping cancer growth at bay.

Research has shown telomerase activity to be a biomarker of cancer, making it an attractive target for cancer therapy. This review focuses on telomeres and telomerase, and the role that they play in oncogenesis. Furthermore, it will discuss different novel therapies involving telomerase, and their mechanisms of action and future potential. Finally, it will consider the conflict of interest between using telomerase to battle either aging or cancer. While the notion of using telomerase as treatment for disease remains relatively new and unexplored, there is no doubt that it is a field of active interest.

This is a review paper about telomeres, and the role that they play in cancer development and progression. It provides an overview of telomeres (structure, function, etc.), telomerase, cancer, and more. It then connects the two together, and the importance of telomere activity, teloemrase activity, and ALT in cancer. It then moves on to discuss different methods of cancer treatment involving telomerase that have been developed until the present.