Understanding Senescence: Research Studying How to Slow Aging

No, we haven’t discovered the youth fountain, nor have we chanced upon the magic portion to reverse aging. Myths and fairytales are too distant, science is slowly coming close to understanding the strange phenomenon called aging.

A new research may have found the way the human aging process works and thereby place some much-needed development of cancer treatments and better life quality in old age.

USC Viterbi School of Engineering is undertaking research to study why cells phase to design better treatments for aging.

The research team includes Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Nick Graham and his team in collaboration with Scott Fraser, Provost Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, and Pin Wang, Zohrab A. Kaprielian Fellow in Engineering.

The research focuses on senescence, a process where cells halt the new cell creation process. Most of age-related diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis and heart disease result from this process. This cell cycle arrest is characterized by inability to produce the chemicals called nucleotides, building blocks of DNA.

On the other hand, Graham said that senescence is most widely known as the body’s protective barrier against cancer. “Sometimes people talk about senescence as a double-edged sword, that it protects against cancer, and that’s a good thing. But then it also promotes aging and diseases like diabetes, cardiac dysfunction or atherosclerosis and general tissue dysfunction,” he said.

Adding more, “That’s where we’re coming in — studying senescent cell metabolism and trying to figure out how the senescent cells are unique, so that you could design targeted therapeutics around these metabolic pathways,” Graham said