By 1990, scientists knew that telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences found at the tips of the long strings of DNA that are chromosomes. That year in the journal Nature, researchers at McMasters University in Ontario and Cold Spring Harbor in New York made a breakthrough announcement. It was that the DNA content of telomeres decreases as the body hosting the telomeres ages.

Cue the new research from cell biologist and geneticist Titia de Lange’s lab at New York’s Rockefeller University. De Lange’s recent work, published in the journal eLife, provides the first proof that, by limiting cell division, telomeres repress cancer.

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