The enzyme telomerase, which lengthens the ends of chromosomes (telomeres) to allow cells to continue dividing, is thought to be useful both as a cancer target and for its ability to promote cell replication for cell or gene therapy. But researchers at Immusol Inc. have shown that knocking out telomerase actually can cause cancer, suggesting that the enzyme may not prove to be a viable therapeutic target to treat the disease.

Immusol researchers last week published, in Nucleic Acids Research, that inactivation of the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene in mouse fibroblasts caused cell transformation (unrestricted growth), which is indicative of cancer. The researchers used Immusol's inverse genomics technology