Senescent cells as vaccines against cancer

Published in Cancer Discovery

Scientists from the Cellular Plasticity and Disease laboratory, led by ICREA researcher Dr. Manuel Serrano, have discovered that inducing senescence in tumour cells can effectively stimulate the immune system. In a study published in the journal Cancer Discovery, the researchers have demonstrated that vaccination with senescent cells significantly reduces the development of tumours in mice with melanoma and pancreatic cancer.

Senescence is a state of latency that aged or damaged cells enter where they neither reproduce nor disappear. As they remain in the body longer than dead cells, they can stimulate the immune system for more extended periods, and, at the same time, they cannot regenerate the tumour. Dr. Inés Marin, the first author of the study, explained that these results indicate that senescent cells are a preferred option for stimulating the immune system against cancer. The researchers are now studying the combined efficacy of vaccination with senescent cells and immunotherapy.

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