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Enzyme stopper combats cancers

An experimental drug combination that inhibits an enzyme that's abundant in tumor cells shows promise against several cancers, new research finds.

Malignant cells produce excess telomerase, an enzyme that may play a role in keeping them alive, says biochemist Calvin B. Harley of Geron Corp. in Menlo Park, Calif. He and other Geron researchers tested the anticancer drug melphalan (marketed as Alkeran) and an anti-telomerase agent on mice with melanoma, a lethal skin cancer.

Injections that combined the two drugs suppressed the cancer better than did just one or the other, Geron's Ning Go reported last month in Anaheim, Calif., at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. At the same meeting, Geron researchers reported that the anti-telomerase drug alone thwarted the growth of precancerous breast cells in test tubes.

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