Recently a journal landed on my desk involving one of my favorite subjects, aging biomarkers. The study authors have been developing a method to allow real-time visualization of senescent cells in living tissues and they have published their findings in the journal of the American chemical society here.
Unfortunately, like a lot of science (up to 70%), the research paper here is behind a paywall. This is really not conductive to the sharing of scientific knowledge, and we cover this problem in our Sci-Hub interview here. For the benefit of those without access or who do not wish to use Sci-Hub to bypass paywalls, we will cover the research in this article.
So what about the research?
The researchers have been developing a system that allows them to measure the levels of senescent cells in tissues using an improved version of fluorescence techniques, a method that allows researchers to highlight and analyze protein–protein, protein–nucleic acid, ligand–receptor, and ligand–lipid interactions.
The basic technique is commonly used in research and in particular for drug discovery. The exciting thing is, if this method turns out to be accurate enough it could potentially replace the current use of biopsies and sample staining in clinical analysis completely. This also has the advantage that it could be far more cost-effective than the current approaches used.
It also has wider ramifications for aging research and rejuvenation biotechnology, especially in the study of senescent cell removal. The ability to accurately track changes in senescent cell populations would be a major boon to the field, allowing for the rapid assessment of therapies designed to remove senescent cells to prevent age-related diseases.
Currently the methods used to track and assess levels of senescent cells are far from ideal, so the arrival of an accurate and cost-effective method for recording changes in senescent cell populations would be a very welcome addition to the research toolkit.
Imagine if we had the option to track senescent cell changes before, during, and after senescent cell removal therapies, for example. It would make optimizing dosage and frequency considerably easier, which currently is a challenge, not to mention very costly to do using current approaches.
The more accurate and cost-effective aging biomarkers we have, the better; and a combination of clinical biomarkers like this, visual biomarkers, and functional aging biomarkers, will allow us to make a comprehensive panel of tests to assess the effectiveness of interventions. Such approaches could be combined with other functional aging tests such as the H-Scan or the updated version being developed as part of a fundraising project at Lifespan.io.
With a number of rejuvenation biotechnology therapies now moving into human clinical trials, the need for better aging biomarkers has never been greater. We welcome this news and hope the method is successful and widely adopted.
 Lozano-Torres, B., Galiana, I., Rovira, M., Garrido, E., Chaib, S., Bernardos, A., … & Sancenón, F. (2017). An OFF-ON two-photon fluorescent probe for tracking cell senescence in vivo. Journal of the American Chemical Society.