Targeting telomeres to overcome therapy resistance in advanced melanoma
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PHILADELPHIA — (March 21, 2018) — A study conducted at The Wistar Institute in collaboration with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has demonstrated the efficacy of targeting aberrantly active telomerase to treat therapy-resistant melanoma. The research was published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

The introduction of targeted therapies and immune checkpoint blockade therapies has revolutionized the therapeutic options for patients with advanced melanoma. However, the long-term therapeutic benefit of these new approaches is still hindered by the onset of therapy resistance, which can develop through different mechanisms.

A hallmark of several cancer types, including melanoma, is the aberrant regulation of telomerase activity due to mutations in the regulatory element of the telomerase gene, which results in increased production of the protein. Telomerase is an enzyme responsible for protecting the integrity of chromosome ends during replication. While it is absent in most normal adult cells that don’t actively proliferate, telomerase is reactivated in cancer cells, allowing continuous cell divisions and making them immortal.

“Our work presents pre-clinical evidence that targeting the aberrant telomerase activity may provide a universal strategy to overcome therapy resistance and achieve long-term melanoma control,” said lead researcher Meenhard Herlyn, D.V.M., D.Sc., Caspar Wistar

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