Cell's 'biological clock' hold promise for new cancer therapy

5 January 2015 

A team at the University of Texas' (UT) Southwestern Medical Center have found a way to use a cell's own biological clock to kill cancer and prevent the growth of tumours. 

Biologists targeted telomeres with a small molecule called 6-thiodG, which are able to inhibit the progression of cancer cells in culture, and reduce tumour growth. 

Dr Jerry W. Shay, professor and vice chairman of cell biology at UT Southwestern, and colleague, Dr Woodring E. Wright, professor of cell biology and internal medicine, found that 6-thiodG is able to target a unique mechanism that is thought to regulate how long cells can survive.

Published in the journal Cancer Discovery, the study used this biological clock, which consists of DNA structures known as telomeres. These protect the cell's chromosomes from damage and become shorter whenever the cell divides. Once the telomeres cannot be shortened any further, the cell dies.

However, cancer cells are protected from death by an RNA protein complex - telomerase - which ensures that telomeres do not shorten with each division. 

6-thiodG is preferable to drugs as it disrupts the normal way cells maintain telomere length, which the cell reads as damage, causing it to die.

Posted by ​Jeanette Royston​


Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...



© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)