Study of telomere length and chronic health conditions presented at ASHG

Memphis, Tennessee, October 16, 2019

Three researchers from St. Jude pose looking at camera.

Left to right: Nan Qi, PhD, Zhaoming Wang, PhD, of St. Jude, and Nan Song, PhD, of the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control. The researchers will share their study of telomere length and chronic health conditions at the ASHG 2019 conference.

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.”

The senior authors on the study are Kirsten Ness, PhD, of St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control and Zhaoming Wang, PhD, of St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control and Computational Biology.

This work was presented Oct. 16 at the American Society for Human Genetics annual meeting.

 

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