This short commentary discusses the utility of Oisin Biotechnologies’ initial strategy for destroying senescent cells, which is to use p16 expression as the determining sign of senescence. Oisin’s implementation involves delivering dormant DNA machinery indiscriminately to all cells, and then triggering it only in cells with high levels of p16. This particular implementation is one of many possibilities in the gene therapy space, and thus various other groups are working on their own p16-based approaches as senolytic development as a treatment for aging grows in funding and popularity.
It isn’t just senescence and aging in which this is a topic of interest, of course. There is a strong overlap with cancer, and the search for ways to selectively destroy the most aggressive cancerous cells. In many of these forms of aberrant cell the mechanisms of senescence are broken in some way. These cells have at least some of the chemical signatures of senescence, but fail to shut down and cease replication. Thus targeting expression of senescence-associated genes may work fairly well against cancer as well as the contribution of cellular senescence to aging – something that Oisin Biotechnologies is