Telomerase is a specialized enzymatic complex responsible for the synthesis of telomeric repeats 5'-TTAGGG-3' localized at
the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. This mechanism prevents shortening of telomeres after each cell division. The enzyme is detected
in about 85% of human tumors, but it is not expressed in normal cells or its expression is significantly lower. Consequently, it provides
the cancer cells immortality. Thus, since showing cancer cell specificity (to a certain extent), the enzyme became a target for an adjuvant
cancer therapy. So far, in vitro studies and preclinical studies seem to be promising. This work focuses on the pathways and mechanisms
that are targeted in order to eliminate telomerase with consequence of cancer cell death. The anti-telomerase strategy may be beneficial
especially in the context of sensitization of tumor cell to chemotherapeutic agents. We also indicate potential side effects and consequences
of telomerase downregulation that should be considered when anti-telomerase strategy is undertaken. Alternatively, we also emphasize
potential useful application of telomerase induction.
Keywords: Cancer therapy, stem cells, telomerase, telomerase induction, telomerase inhibition, telomeres.
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