As we age our body accumulates damaged “senescent” cells that our immune system is no longer able to effectively eliminate. Senescent cells are responsible for the development of aging and age-related diseases like cancer or fibrosis. My group studies how senescent cells evade the immune system thereby identifying new therapeutic approaches.
Our lab studies cellular senescence. Senescence is a stress response program that is triggered in damaged cells and leads to their elimination by the immune system. If uncleared, the accumulation of senescent cells generates a chronic pro-inflammatory microenvironment that conduces to aging and tumor development. We seek to understand how the immune system recognizes and targets these cells in physiological conditions and how senescent cells evade immune clearance in disease. We aim to leverage our findings to develop immune-based therapeutic approaches to target senescent cells in cancer, aging and age-related pathologies. In our studies we develop and combine novel somatic mouse models of cancer and cell-based therapeutics such as our recently developed senolytic CAR T cells.