Pharmacological Targeting of hTERT for the Treatment of Disorders Associated With Aging

Technology #ua16-174

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Laurence Hurley
Professor, Pharmacology & Toxicology
Angela Davis
Postdoctoral Research Associate I, Pharmacology & Toxicology
Vijay Gokhale
Senior Research Scientist, BIO5
Managed By
Rakhi Gibbons
Asst. Director, Life Sciences (520) 626-6695

Title: Pharmacological Targeting of hTERT for the Treatment of Disorders Associated with Aging


Invention: The technology encompasses a series of small molecule compounds that increase human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) expression in non-transformed skin cells and fibroblasts by modulating a secondary DNA structure in the hTERT promoter region.


Background: Telomerase activation is the hallmark of telomere maintenance and to function, telomerase requires the catalytic protein human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT). Pharmacological hTERT induction represents a promising strategy to ameliorate skin aging that can occur as a consequence of telomere shortening. In addition, telomere shortening is associated with a wide variety of aging-associated diseases including cardiovascular abnormalities, neurological disorders, cancer, and premature aging. Increasing evidence indicates that telomere mediated cellular senescence can cause aging and that the enzyme telomerase, which maintains the function of telomeres, has a significant role in the maintenance of skin function and proliferation.

Thus, activation of hTERT transcription has the potential to reverse the effect of telomere erosion and reverse the effect of aging in skin and other organs.



  • Illnesses associated with aging
  • Anti-aging (cosmetics, pharmeutics, healthcare, biotech, medspa, and fitness services)
  • Translational research



  • Targets common diseases associated with aging
  • Activates hTERT expression in the normal immortalized MCF10A cell line
  • Increases hTERT expression in non-transformed skin cells and fibroblasts
  • Has no effect on the breast cancer cell line MCF7
  • Affects the final folded form of the silencer element of hTERT by steering the cooperative folding process at an early stage by binding the 26-base hairpin


Licensing Manager: 

Rakhi Gibbons

(520) 626-6695