Targeting telomerase-expressing cancer cells

J Cell Mol Med. 2011 Jul;15(7):1433-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2011.01279.x.


The role of telomeres and telomerase as a target for cancer therapeutics is an area of continuing interest. This review is intended to provide an update on the field, pointing to areas in which our knowledge remains deficient and exploring the details of the most promising areas being advanced into clinical trials. Topics that will be covered include the role of dysfunctional telomeres in cellular aging and how replicative senescence provides an initial barrier to the emergence of immortalized cells, a hallmark of cancer. As an important translational theme, this review will consider possibilities for selectively targeting telomeres and telomerase to enhance cancer therapy. The role of telomerase as an immunotherapy, as a gene therapy approach using telomerase promoter driven oncolytic viruses and as a small oligonucleotide targeted therapy (Imetelstat) will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cellular Senescence / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Mitosis / physiology
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Oncolytic Viruses / genetics
  • Oncolytic Viruses / metabolism
  • Telomerase / genetics
  • Telomerase / metabolism*
  • Telomere / metabolism


  • Telomerase