Some cancerous cells express signatures normally associated with senescent cells, so why not try senolytic compounds against them? This is something of a full circle, given that most of the current senolytic drug candidates were originally characterized and tested as potential chemotherapeutics. The open access paper here is interesting for two points: firstly, that senolytic drugs didn’t kill cancerous cells with a senescent signature, and secondly that a suicide gene therapy targeting that signature does work against both normal senescent cells and cancerous cells with a senescent signature. The gene therapy approach reported here is conceptually similar (at a very high level) to the Oisin Biotechnologies gene therapy used to destroy senescent cells, but less flexible. The Oisin Biotechnologies founders have shown that targeting p53, a cancer suppressor, rather than p16 / p16Ink4a, a signature of senescence, is highly effective against cancer, but it appears that p16 is also a viable trigger for cell killing gene therapy mechanisms in many cancers.
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