Purpose: To determine whether telomerase enzyme activity correlates with tumor stage, grade, and prognosis using a quantitative telomerase assay. Method: A new semiquantitative assay for telomerase enzyme activity (Telomerase Repeat Amplification Protocol-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) was employed on 21 neuroblastoma specimens. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay results were compared to tumor stage, patient age, and overall tumor aggressiveness. The principle investigator was blinded to all clinical data. A Student's t test was used to determine significance (p < 0.05). Results: Telomerase activity correlated with stage of tumor (p < 0.007). Age of patient did not correlate with telomerase activity independently. Conclusions: Telomerase enzyme activity was predictive for neuroblastoma stage. This implies that increased telomerase activity is involved in tumor dedifferentiation. The semiquantitative telomerase assay may be used as a rapid prognostic indicator and serve as a guide to initiating treatment in childhood neuroblastoma.
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