Reportedly, researchers have used a cryo-electron microscopy to obtain the structure of a proportion of the telomerase enzyme, opening the possibility of either inhibiting it on to stop cancer or activating it to prevent ageing. There is, of course, a lot more work than this that needs to be done before it becomes viable in the mean time, maybe we can self-repair our organs as needed.
Organisms regulate their telomere maintenance in this way because they are walking a biological tightrope. On the one hand, they need to replace the cells they lose in the course of their ordinary daily lives by cell division.
However, any cell with an unlimited capacity to divide is the seed of a tumour. And it turns out that the majority of human cancers have active telomerase and shorter telomeres than the cells surrounding them.
This indicates that the cell from which they came divided as normal but then picked up a mutation which turned TERT back on. Cancer and ageing are flip sides of the same coin and telomerase, by and large, is doing the flipping.
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