In The Field

Minimum telomere length defined for healthy cells

Mechanism for chromosome corruption also revealed.

How long have I got left, doctor? For a cell, at least, scientists may be close to an answer. A cell’s lifespan depends on the length of its telomeres — the regions of repeating DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes. Every time a cell divides, its telomeres get shorter until they become unstable and cause chromosomes to fuse together. These fusions can make the chromosomes break when cells divide, leading to cell death or triggering genomic rearrangements associated with the early stages of cancer.

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