Potential Telomere-Related Pharmacological Targets

Author(s): Joseph Berei, Adam Eckburg, Edward Miliavski, Austin D. Anderson, Rachel J. Miller, Joshua Dein, Allison M. Giuffre, Diana Tang, Shreya Deb, Kavya Sri Racherla, Meet Patel, Monica Saravana Vela, Neelu Puri*.

Journal Name: Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry

Volume 20 , Issue 6 , 2020

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Graphical Abstract:


Telomeres function as protective caps at the terminal portion of chromosomes, containing non-coding nucleotide sequence repeats. As part of their protective function, telomeres preserve genomic integrity and minimize chromosomal exposure, thus limiting DNA damage responses. With continued mitotic divisions in normal cells, telomeres progressively shorten until they reach a threshold at a point where they activate senescence or cell death pathways. However, the presence of the enzyme telomerase can provide functional immortality to the cells that have reached or progressed past senescence. In senescent cells that amass several oncogenic mutations, cancer formation can occur due to genomic instability and the induction of telomerase activity. Telomerase has been found to be expressed in over 85% of human tumors and is labeled as a near-universal marker for cancer. Due to this feature being present in a majority of tumors but absent in most somatic cells, telomerase and telomeres have become promising targets for the development of new and effective anticancer therapeutics. In this review, we evaluate novel anticancer targets in development which aim to alter telomerase or telomere function. Additionally, we analyze the progress that has been made, including preclinical studies and clinical trials, with therapeutics directed at telomere-related targets. Furthermore, we review the potential telomere-related therapeutics that are used in combination therapy with more traditional cancer treatments. Throughout the review, topics related to medicinal chemistry are discussed, including drug bioavailability and delivery, chemical structure-activity relationships of select therapies, and the development of a unique telomere assay to analyze compounds affecting telomere elongation.

Keywords: Telomere, Telomerase, Cancer, Shelterin, hTERT, ATM, G-Quadruplex, T-oligo.

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