Role of Telomeres and Telomerase in Cancer

  • Keiko Hiyama
  • Eiso Hiyama
  • Keiji Tanimoto
  • Masahiko Nishiyama
Part of the Cancer Drug Discovery and Development book series (CDD&D)


Cancer cells are distinguished from normal cells by two major characteristics: lack of regulation and limitation in their proliferation. The former is essential and represented as “transformed” with anchorage independency and invasive capabilities, while the latter is not a prerequisite but highly associated and represented as “immortal” concomitant with activation of telomerase. Telomerase is activated in around 80% of human cancers but not in usual somatic cells, and it is responsible for the indefinite proliferation capacity of cancer cells. Therefore, it is natural for physicians to expect telomerase to be useful as a diagnostic and therapeutic target in human cancers. In this chapter, we will overview the characteristics of telomeres and telomerase in human cancers.


Telomere shortening Telomerase activation Cancer cell Cancer stem cell 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keiko Hiyama
    • 1
  • Eiso Hiyama
    • 2
  • Keiji Tanimoto
    • 1
  • Masahiko Nishiyama
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Translational Cancer Research, Research Institute for Radiation Biology and MedicineHiroshima UniversityHiroshimaJapan
  2. 2.Natural Science Center for Basic Research and DevelopmentHiroshima UniversityHiroshimaJapan
  3. 3.Saitama Medical University International Medical CenterSaitamaJapan

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