Split Ends: Cancers follow shrinkage of chromosomes' tips | Science News

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Split Ends: Cancers follow shrinkage of chromosomes' tips

10:05am, July 16, 2003

Molecular caps that normally protect the ends of chromosomes shrink in many cells that later turn cancerous, according to a new study in people.

Just as shoelaces that lose their plastic tips unravel, so may chromosomes with broken tips, or telomeres, be more prone to mutations that cause cells to become cancerous, says Alan K. Meeker of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore. His new findings, which are based on studies in a variety of human tissues, support that popular hypothesis.

Past studies had confirmed that telomeres are abnormally short in human cancer cells. The phenomenon could be a product of cancer cells'

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