Health Watch - Cancer Research: Cell Division

Health Watch is a Public Service of the University News Bureau and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about recent findings in cancer research. One of the things that makes cancer cells so dangerous is that they keep dividing, long past the point when normal cells would die, and that allows tumors to grow. There may be a way to stop this abnormal growth.

Normal cells have an age limit caused by telomeres, which are caps on the ends of chromosomes. Every time a cell divides, the caps shorten, and when the caps reach a certain size, the cell either dies or stops dividing. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that an enzyme called telomerase repairs chromosomes of cancer cells, allowing them to keep dividing. Dr. Woodring Wright, a UT Southwestern cell biologist, says it may be possible to target telomerase and inhibit its action to stop cancer cells from dividing, which would stop tumors from growing and keep cancer from spreading.

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July 2011

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