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Biology Summative: Telomeres, Telomerase, and Cancer Essay

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In current society, cancer is one of the most fatal and prevalent diseases to exist. However, new research being conducted on telomeres and telomerase provides insight on not only the aging process and mortality of cells, but also on how the idea of cell death connects to cancer cells. By gaining knowledge on the supposed immortality of cancer cells, researchers are acquiring a higher understanding of the subject, and attempting to work on alternate techniques to provide treatment for the illness. The connection between telomeres and cancer and the momentous discoveries being made on them is revolutionizing the world through potential current and future applications that have significant implications for cancer treatment, and society, the economy, and technology.
Firstly, there is an unmistakable link between telomeres, telomerase, and cancer. In eukaryotic cells, the chromosomes are linear and undeviating DNA molecules1. Due to this fact and due to the natural technicalities of DNA replication, diminutive amounts of DNA are not replicated and are lost every time a cell divides1. To prevent irreplaceable and important genes from being lost and inflicting damage upon the cell, telomeres, which are non-coding strands of DNA, are present at the ends of the chromosomes2, 8. The shortening of telomeres is associated with the mortality of cells; when telomeres run out, the coding regions of the chromosomes are susceptible to be damaged instead, leading to the loss of cellular functions and eventual cell death2, 8. Telomeres are produced by an enzyme called telomerase, which ceases to be completely active after the development of the embryo2. Recent research has proven that telomere shortening paves the way for cancer, driving the gene...


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...r, and immortality." Young Scientists Journal Jan.-June 2013: 9. Science in Context. Web. 19 May 2014.
9. Travis, John. "End games: tips of chromosomes may contain secrets of cancer and aging." Science News 25 Nov. 1995: 362+. Science in Context. Web. 20 May 2014.
10. Seppa, Nathan. "Enzyme stopper combats cancers." Science News 28 May 2005: 349. Science in Context. Web. 19 May 2014.
11. Stover, Dawn. "Fountain of youth? A cellular enzyme with rejuvenating powers is providing clues about cancer and how to reverse the aging process." Popular Science Feb. 1999: 57+. Science in Context. Web. 19 May 2014.
12. "Chemotherapy." World of Scientific Discovery. Gale, 2007. Science in Context. Web. 23 May 2014.
13. Frey, Rebecca J. "Radiation therapy." The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Ed. Laurie J. Fundukian. 4th ed. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Science in Context. Web. 24 May 2014.



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