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Targeting Senescent Cells With Rejuvenation Therapies Could Be Detrimental

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Credit: Skylarvision/ Pixabay
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The quest for rejuvenation treatments often targets senescent cells, despite them having a positive physiological role in health in many recent cases, a leading researcher has warned.

In a paper published in Science today (Thursday 20 June), Professor Joao Pedro de Magalhaes from the University of Birmingham identifies that senescent cells which have been variously referred to as responsible for ageing actually have various positive health impacts and targeting them therapeutically could be detrimental.

Professor de Magalhaes highlights the important role that cellular senescence plays in the development of several tissues and organs as well as:

  • inflammation and wound healing,
  • tumour suppression,
  • insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells,
  • and has structural roles in the vascular system and placenta.

Senescence has also been observed in tissue regeneration in some animals including in mice, where hepatic stellate cells which are crucial to normal liver functioning become senescent following injury.

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Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, Professor of Molecular Biogerontology at the University of Birmingham and author of the paper said:

“The role of cellular senescence in ageing and age-related diseases is a major area of research, which has led to the ongoing development of therapies targeting senescent cells.

“Recent findings, however, have revealed a surprising and growing number of normal physiological roles of senescent cells. Strikingly, these results showing that senescent cells play important physiological roles and raise major questions about the rationale, efficacy and safety of targeting senescent cells therapeutically.

"While it’s clear that there are some instances in which cellular senescence is implicated in ageing diseases, targeting senescent cells therapeutically entails risks and may not be the way to go in order to tackle ageing.”

Reference: de Magalhães JP. Cellular senescence in normal physiology. Science. 2024;384(6702):1300-1301. doi: 10.1126/science.adj7050

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