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MOL CANCER MED — Result In Brief

Project ID: 502943

Targeting telomeres to fight cancer

Leading European scientists in the field of cancer joined forces to study how telomere length is implicated in cancer development. The identification of novel biomarkers will hopefully contribute towards cancer diagnosis and therapy.
Targeting telomeres to fight cancer
Telomeres or chromosome ends have become an attractive target for anti-cancer interventions, as telomere integrity is required to guarantee the unlimited replicative potential of cancer cells. Chromosome length maintenance is performed by the enzyme telomerase which is activated in nearly 90 % of cancers.

Scientists believe that interfering with telomeres, through direct targeting of telomeric DNA or proteins involved in the telosome complex, could negatively affect the proliferative potential of tumours. Therefore, these components represent novel anti-cancer targets of enormous therapeutic and diagnostic potential.

To this end, the aim of the EU-funded ‘Developing molecular medicines for cancer in the post-genome era’ (MOL Cancer MED) project was to identify new targets involved in telomere length maintenance and translate them into pre-clinical practice. The project was a continuation of a successful Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) project involving seven institutions that investigated the potential of telomerase as a target for cancer. The MOL Cancer MED consortium was extended to promote scientific interaction and collaboration among researchers from 14 different groups working on telomerase, telomeres and cancer.

Project scientists made major advances on the value of telomerase and telosome components as biomarkers for cancer diagnosis. Important novel telomere-related molecular targets were identified, and telomerase repressor and growth-promoting functions were discovered. Additionally, the consortium managed to produce novel small molecule drug leads with promising anti-cancer properties.

The MOL Cancer MED project overall advanced our basic knowledge on the mechanisms responsible for sustaining telomere length in cancer cells. Project deliverables offer promising alternatives to existing anti-cancer regimens, with the potential to benefit thousands of cancer patients worldwide.

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