Many cancer therapies involve some form of tumor-burden reduction (e.g. extirpative surgery). However, a major challenge to achieving durable patient responses is the re-growth of the original tumor. Such recurrence entails a large number of new cellular divisions, during which time these tumors must maintain their telomeres. At this point tumors may be most vulnerable to an adjuvant strategy targeting telomerase. Effectively hindering telomere length maintenance at this stage appears to lead to improved outcomes in xenograft models and patient studies. Therefore, understanding the basic biology of telomerase expression and function may reveal new therapeutic angles.
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