Telomeres, a structure found at the end of a chromosome, shorten when a cell divides. Short telomeres are a hallmark of aging.
Researchers have hypothesized that childhood cancer survivors may experience accelerated age-dependent telomere attrition, but until now this had not been thoroughly investigated. The St. Jude Lifetime Cohort (St. Jude LIFE) study enables such an analysis.
The purpose of St. Jude LIFE is to learn about the health of adult survivors of childhood cancer and to reduce late-effects due to childhood cancer treatments. St. Jude researchers compared telomere length and age-dependent telomere attrition between childhood cancer survivors and adult control subjects.
“We evaluated the link between telomere length and cancer treatments, chronic health conditions, and health behaviors,” said Nan Song, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control. “Our findings suggest that while telomere length is a biomarker for aging it also has potential as a target for future interventions to prevent or delay the onset of chronic health conditions in childhood cancer survivors.”
This work was presented Oct. 16 at the American Society for Human Genetics annual meeting.