Telomerase inhibition as cancer therapy

Cancer Lett. 2003 May 15;194(2):209-19. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(02)00708-5.


A number of different approaches have been developed to inhibit telomerase activity in human cancer cells. Different components and types of inhibitors targeting various regulatory levels have been regarded as useful for telomerase inhibition. Most methods, however, rely on successive telomere shortening. This process is very slow and causes a long time lag between the onset of inhibition and the occurrence of senescence or apoptosis as a reversal of the immortal phenotype. Many telomerase inhibitors seem to be most efficient when combined with conventional chemotherapeutics. There are some promising approaches that seem to circumvent the slow way of telomere shortening and induce fast apoptosis in treated tumor cells. It has been demonstrated that telomerase may be involved in triggering apoptosis, but the underlying molecular mechanism remains unclear.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Telomerase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Telomerase / drug effects
  • Telomerase / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Telomerase