Drug Thwarts Prostate Cancer Cells

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A potential treatment for breast cancer, lung cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and glioblastoma may also work against prostate cancer. Imetelstat—already in clinical trials for some cancers—blocks telomerase, an enzyme that eliminates cancer cells' cues to stop dividing.

As Jerry W. Shay, PhD, and coinvestigators explain in the International Journal of Cancer (2010; published online ahead of print), almost all cancer therapies target the bulk tumor cells, but may leave intact a small population of tumor-initiating cells, which are believed to be responsible for relapse and metastasis.

Investigators found significant telomerase activity in tumor-intiating cells taken from human prostate cancer cells. Imetelstat inhibited the enzyme, providing new opportunities for combination therapies.

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