How can cancer cells become immortal? New research finds a mutated gene


The hallmark of cancer cells is immortality. Normally, normal cells are limited in the number of times they can divide before they stop growing. However, cancer cells can overcome this limitation to form tumors and bypass ‘mortality’ by continuing to multiply.

Melanoma is a particularly aggressive form of skin cancer. Dlumen/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Telomeres It plays an essential role in determining the number of times a cell can divide. These repetitive DNA sequences are located at the ends of chromosomes, which are structures that contain genetic information. In normal cells, continuous rounds of replication shorten the telomeres until they become so short that they eventually cause the cell to stop reproducing. In contrast, cancer cells can maintain their telomere lengths by activating an enzyme called Telomerase that rebuild telomeres during each replication.


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