S’pore scientists identify cause of chronic inflammation in cancers

November 22, 2012

SINGAPORE – A*STAR scientists have identified the enzyme telomerase as a cause of chronic inflammation in human cancers.

Chronic inflammation is now recognised as a key underlying cause for the development of many human cancers, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Telomerase was previously identified to be responsible for providing cancer cells the endless ability to divide, and has now been found to also jumpstart and maintain chronic inflammation in cancers.

The breakthrough led to the discovery that targeting telomerase with drugs could potentially reduce inflammation, and hence get rid of cancer cells.

This holds the potential to reduce healthcare costs for many common inflammatory diseases such as cancer and diabetes as it opens the door to developing a targeted drug therapy.

Currently, the annual costs and expenses associated with cancer and metabolic diseases amount to about $132 billion in the US alone.

Although many safe and effective anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin are currently available on the market, these drugs sometimes have side effects. Hence there exists a need for the development of cost-effective drugs that are targeted, so as to minimise side effects, researchers said.

The collaborative research was led by Assoc Prof Vinay Tergaonkar and conducted by scientists at A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and National University of Singapore.

Source: YourHealth, AsiaOne

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