HomeScienceGeneticsHow cancer cells can become immortal? New research finds a mutated...

How cancer cells can become immortal? New research finds a mutated gene

A defining feature of cancer cells is their immortality. Usually, normal cells are limited in the number of times they can divide before they stop growing. However, cancer cells can overcome this limitation to form tumors and evade “mortality” by continuing to replicate.

Melanoma is a particularly aggressive form of skin cancer. Dlumen/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Telomeres play an essential role in determining how many times a cell can divide. These repeating DNA sequences are located at the ends of chromosomes, structures that contain genetic information. In normal cells, continuous rounds of replication shorten telomeres until they become so short that they eventually trigger the cell to stop replicating. Tumor cells, on the other hand, can maintain the length of their telomeres by activating an enzyme called telomerase which rebuilds telomeres during each replication.

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