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Two-step process leads to cell immortalization and cancer

(University of California - Berkeley) Immortalization of cells is a necessary step in the development of cancer, and scientists think that the main cause is turning on an enzyme -- telomerase -- that lengthens chromosomal telomeres and prevents normal cell death. A new study by UC Berkeley scientists shows that turning on telomerase is not a one-step process. In melanoma, and probably other cancers, a mutation turns up telomerase slightly, keeping the cell alive long enough for other changes that up-regulate telomerase.
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