Cellular senescence is a terminal differentiation state that has been proposed to play a role in both tumour suppression and ageing. This view is supported by the fact that accumulation of senescent cells can be observed in response to oncogenic stress as well as a result of normal organismal ageing. The molecular pathways involved in triggering and/or maintaining the senescent phenotype are not fully understood, and we are investigating them.
Evidence suggests that accumulation of old cells in tissues plays a critical role in the appearance of the symptoms associated with age and can also enhance tumour growth. Our experiments on senescence are aimed at understanding how it stops cancer cells and at the same time has an impact on ageing. The goal is to provide the basis for new treatments that could be applied to block senescence and thus prevent tumour growth and improve the symptoms associated with organismal ageing. We have identified several novel markers that could be used to detect and target senescent cells in vivo and in vitro. With this information, we are exploring different approaches to selectively eliminate senescent cells from tissues and propose novel anti-neoplastic and anti-ageing strategies that could be used clinically.