Scientists discover new proteins in telomeres, a stunning discovery
The tiny telomeres that are at the ends of our chromosomes, which were once thought to be incapable of encoding protein due to their monotonous DNA repetitions, now seem to have a powerful biological function. This could help us better understand cancer and aging.
Researchers from the UNC School of Medicine, Taghreed Al-Turki and Jack Griffith made the astonishing discovery that telomeres are genetically coded to produce two proteins. They found one of these is elevated in cancerous cells as well as in cells of patients with telomere-related defects.
According to Griffith, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member and Kenan Distinguished professor of Microbiology & Immunology, simple blood tests could be a useful screening tool for cancer and other diseases. These tests could also provide a measure for ‘telomere’ health because we know that telomeres decrease with age.