Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

So Much for Immortality


It's thought that cancer cells are able to endlessly replicate themselves as they spread through the body. But far from being "immortal," a new study in Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research shows the cells seem unable to multiply at will, reports New Scientist's Andy Coghlan. By studying the molecular profiles of skin cancer cells as they grow in the lab, the researchers found that many appear to hit a "telomere crisis" and stop dividing when the tips of the chromosomes become so short that the cell mistakes them for DNA breaks and tries to repair them, Coghlan says. "The team found that the few cancer cells that are immortal activate telomerase reverse transcriptase, a part of the telomerase enzyme that rebuilds telomeres so they avoid a telomere crisis," he adds. Cancer Research UK recently launched a trial to stop the spread of pancreatic cancer with a vaccine made of fragments of telomerase reverse transcriptase and a similar vaccine against acute myeloid leukemia is being tested in California, Coghlan says.

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.