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Senescent cells promote healing

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Scientists reappraise the role of 'zombie' cells that anti-aging medicine has sought to eliminate

Not all senescent cells are harmful "zombies" that should be wiped out to prevent age-related disease, according to new research from UC San Francisco, which found that some of them are embedded in young, healthy tissues and promote normal repair from damage.

When they used drugs called senolytics to kill these cells, injuries to lung tissues healed more slowly.

In early experiments, researchers extracted cells called fibroblasts into culture dishes, allowing them to grow and produce enough cells to experiment with, and then stressed the cells with chemicals that induced them to become senescent. But in living organisms, cells interact with tissues around them, strongly affecting the cells' gene activity. This means that the characteristics of cells growing isolated in a glass dish could be quite different from that of cells in their natural environment.

Using this highly sensitive tool, the researchers found that senescent cells exist in young and healthy tissues to a greater extent than previously thought, and actually begin appearing shortly after birth. 

The team saw senescent cells in similar positions in other barrier organs such as small intestine, colon, and skin, and their experiments confirmed that if senescent cells were killed with senolytics, lung stem cells were not able to properly repair the barrier surface. 


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Interesting -- SENS has supported research on drugs hoped to eliminate some or many of an animal's (including human's) senescent cells.  It might be wise to first do research what uses these cells might have, and which ones, and how many of them, should be kept.

(I've also been skeptical about how accurately drugs can differentiate active and senescent cells.)

  --  Saul

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