There are a lot of publications, starting from 2000, about using telomerase for targeting cancer cells (it is upregulated in more than 80-90% of tumor cells). Specifically using its promoter (hTERT). In all publications, researches talking about the success of this approach. So my questions, why there is no use of this? What is the problem? I read a lot of articles - and didn't find an answer.


http://www.spandidos-publications.com/ijo/21/3/661 (one of the newest)

  • $\begingroup$ The study you linked to uses cell cultures; there's a big difference between introducing genes in cultured cells and in whole organisms. Also, telomerase is expressed by some non-cancerous cells in adults. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer, thank you. But in studies that I read, they wrote that the targeting is really good, and has a really little affect on healthy cells - much better then chemotherapy. So the delivery is the main problem...? $\endgroup$
    – Robertos
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 19:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Delivery of a transgene would be a problem currently. Delivery of some inhibitory drug could be easier. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. If you want to write an answer - I will choose it. $\endgroup$
    – Robertos
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


With help of canadianer (thank you) I think I found the right article, so just want to share.

This study not talking specifically about telomerase, but about the same approach of using promoters that are upregulated in tumors - exactly what I looked for. Published in 2014.


However, the therapeutic approach in humans is limited by low efficiency of delivering the suicide genes and concerns regarding safety. Thus the number of clinical trials in human patients has been limited and treatment benefits observed modest. An intensive research effort is necessary to overcome these obstacles and turn suicide gene therapy into real benefit for our patients.


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