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Telomerase enzyme mapping may help fight cancer


Narrator: This is Science Today. For the first time ever, scientists at UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, were able to create a complete, visual map of the telomerase enzyme, which plays a crucial role in aging and most cancers. Edward Miracco, an NIH postdoctoral fellow at UCLA, says it was an exhilarating moment.

Miracco: I mean, this is brand new information to the human race, which to me is, I'm like...wow...that's so cool. And so just the ability to work on this very important and very, very difficult task and then get it to work, it's wonderful.

Narrator: Telomerase helps maintain telomeres, the protective regions at the ends of our chromosomes. Up to 90 percent of cancer cells have abnormally high telomerase activity.

Miracco: So, when you have this kind of structure elucidated, it allows you to see important contacts between the different parts and how they fit together is very important. The pharmaceutical side of it it helps a lot to have a target.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.