Oncology, Pre-clinical

GSK-backed scientific team at UCSF says they found the immortality switch in cancer cells — and know how to turn it off

Cancer cells cheat death in a number of ways, dividing and multiplying infinitely in a patient’s body. But by tinkering with glioblastoma cells a preclinical proof-of-concept study, researchers from UC San Francisco report that they have found a way to disrupt one of those “immortality switches.”

It’s a first glimpse at the science behind Telo Therapeutics, a GlaxoSmithKline-partnered biotech upstart founded by UCSF neuro-oncology professor Joseph Costello and one of his former PhD students, Robert Bell. Costello is the senior author of the study while Bell is listed as a co-author.

Their breakthrough here begins with telomere, the cell lifespan-controlling chromosome cap that’s inspired considerable interest in both anti-aging (to prolong a functional cell’s life) and cancer (to hasten a tumor cell’s death).


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