Technology Briefing

The cloning of a human catalytic subunit of the enzyme telomerase, which is responsible for maintaining chromosome ends long enough for cell division to continue, sent Geron Corp.'s stock soaring 111 percent last week, but the surge may reflect a lack of investor perspective. In context, the cloning is a positive step towards understanding cell senescence and cancer, but GERN is a long way from a compound entering the clinic.

The cloning was reported by GERN and the University of Colorado in Science and by MIT and Merck Research Labs in this week's Cell (see Other Research News, B10). Both groups identify the same protein, with the GERN/Colorado group calling it hTRT (human telomerase reverse transcriptase), while MIT/Merck named it hEST2 (ever-shorter telomeres).