Whole-body interdiction of lengthening of telomeres: a proposal for cancer prevention

Front Biosci. 2005 Sep 1;10:2420-9. doi: 10.2741/1707.


The intrinsic genetic instability of cancer cells makes age-related cancers more difficult to postpone or treat than any other age-related diseases. Any treatment that a cancer can resist by activating or inactivating specific genes is unlikely to succeed over the long term, because pre-existing cancer cells with the necessary gene expression pattern will withstand the therapy and proliferate. "Whole-body Interdiction of Lengthening of Telomeres" (WILT) is a proposal to pre-empt this problem by deleting from as many of our cells as possible the genes needed for telomere elongation. Cancers lacking these genes can never reach a life-threatening stage by altering gene expression, only by acquiring new genes, which is far more unlikely. Continuously-renewing tissues can be maintained by periodic reseeding with telomere elongation-incompetent stem cells that have had their telomeres lengthened in vitro with exogenous telomerase. Here, I describe why WILT might prove to be an exceptionally powerful anti-cancer modality.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Telomerase / genetics*
  • Telomere / genetics*


  • Telomerase