Telomerase and cancer therapeutics

Nat Rev Cancer. 2008 Mar;8(3):167-79. doi: 10.1038/nrc2275.


Telomerase is an attractive cancer target as it appears to be required in essentially all tumours for immortalization of a subset of cells, including cancer stem cells. Moreover, differences in telomerase expression, telomere length and cell kinetics between normal and tumour tissues suggest that targeting telomerase would be relatively safe. Clinical trials are ongoing with a potent and specific telomerase inhibitor, GRN163L, and with several versions of telomerase therapeutic vaccines. The prospect of adding telomerase-based therapies to the growing list of new anticancer products is promising, but what are the advantages and limitations of different approaches, and which patients are the most likely to respond?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Kinetics
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Oligonucleotides
  • Oligopeptides / pharmacology
  • Telomerase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Telomerase / metabolism
  • Telomerase / physiology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • GRN163L peptide
  • Oligonucleotides
  • Oligopeptides
  • Telomerase