Immortality is one of the most universal characteristics of cancer cells. We study the mechanisms by which tumour cells are immortal and normal cells are mortal. The enzyme telomerase is present in more than 95% of all types of human cancers and is absent in normal cells in the body. Telomeres are nucleoprotein complexes located at the ends of chromosomes, essential for chromosome protection and genomic stability. Progressive shortening of telomeres associated with organism ageing leads to ageing. When telomeres are altered, adult stem cells have a maimed regenerative capacity.
Our research focuses on:
- Generating mouse models to validate telomeres and telomerase as therapeutic targets for cancer and age-related diseases.
- Interplay between telomeres and DNA repair pathways.
- Role and regulation of non-coding telomeric RNAs or TERRA.
- Testing telomerase gene therapy in telomere syndromes and age-related diseases.
- Role of telomerase and telomeres in adult stem cell biology and in nuclear reprogramming of differentiated cells to iPS cells.