CNIO website

Maria studies the ends of chromosomes, which are called telomeres. As cells age, their telomeres become shorter and shorter until the cells die. Mice lacking telomerase – the enzyme that lengthens telomeres – age prematurely. Is telomerase the key to eternal life? It seems not. Telomerase acts as a double-edged sword and the price to be paid for immortality appears to be cancer. Human cancer cells become immortal by activating telomerase. As telomerase activity can be restricted by epigenetic modifications, there is a link between telomere epigenetics and cancer. Maria is optimistic that a drug that inhibits telomerase could be effective against cancer.