Telomeres and telomerase as targets for cancer therapy

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2007 Apr;64(7-8):906-21. doi: 10.1007/s00018-007-6481-8.


Telomeres are protective structures located at the ends of all eukaryotic chromosomes. Telomere shortening upon cell division restricts the proliferative capacity of most normal human cells due to the lack of telomerase, an enzyme synthesizing telomeric DNA de novo. Since most tumor cells are reliant on the activity of telomerase to maintain the stability of predominantly short individual telomeres, inhibition of this enzyme presents an attractive approach for a mechanism-based anticancer therapy. Here, we review advances and obstacles in targeting telomerase and telomeres and discuss potential applications of such approaches for the clinic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Telomerase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Telomerase / genetics
  • Telomerase / metabolism
  • Telomere / metabolism*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase