Cellular senescence and cancer immunotherapy

Prof. Valery Krizhanovsky, Department of Molecular Cell Biology

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Cellular senescence, an age-associated and irreversible form of cell cycle arrest which limits cells’ proliferative potential, serves as a potent barrier to tumor formation. Paradoxically, accumulation of senescent cells with age promotes cancer development.  Prof. Valery Krizhanovsky recently demonstrated how a protein called p21 maintains the viability of senescent cells. Moreover, p21 knockdown-mediated elimination of senescent cells reduced fibrosis, which is associated with an increased cancer risk. Krizhanovsky lab also studies the interaction of senescent cells with the immune system. In a separate study—completed recently together with Prof. Yosef Yarden—Prof. Krizhanosky showed how immunotherapy protocols can be used to trigger a molecular response that leads to senescence, a new approach that may someday form the basis of new drug treatments for combating cancer in humans.