Macrophage polarization is a hot topic of late. The innate immune cells known as macrophages are responsible for a wide range of duties that include destroying errant cells, attacking pathogens, cleaning up waste and debris, and participation in tissue regrowth and regeneration. The polarization of a macrophage describes its state and inclination as which of those duties it undertakes: M1 macrophages are aggressive and inflammatory, while M2 macrophages tend towards participation in the gentler processes of rebuilding and regeneration. Many of the common inflammatory age-related conditions appear to be characterized by too many M1 macrophages and too few M2 macrophages. Methods by which that balance can be shifted seem promising as a basis for therapy.
Cancer is a different story, however, as is often the case. Many of the issues seen in aging can actually be helpful when it comes to the short-term goals of shutting down and eliminating cancerous tissue. Forcing cancerous cells into senescence is a viable strategy, for example, even though researchers know that senescent cells are one of the root causes of aging, and are working on ways to remove them from normal aged tissues. In this case, the problem
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