Current standard cancer therapies (chemotherapy and radiation) often cause serious adverse off-target effects. Drug design strategies are therefore being developed that will more precisely target cancer cells for destruction while leaving surrounding normal cells relatively unaffected. Telomerase, widely expressed in most human cancers but almost undetectable in normal somatic cells, provides an exciting drug target. This review focuses on recent pharmacogenomic approaches to telomerase inhibition. Antisense oligonucleotides, RNA interference, ribozymes, mutant expression, and the exploitation of differential telomerase expression as a strategy for targeted oncolysis are discussed here in the context of cancer therapeutics. Reports of synergism between telomerase inhibitors and traditional cancer therapeutic agents are also analyzed.
Keywords: Telomerase inhibition, hTR, hTERT, antisense, RNAi, ribozyme, dominant-negative hTERT, mutant-template telomerase RNA
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