New Study: Antibody-drug to Target Senescent Cells

What is Senescence? 

Senescence is an irreversible proliferation arrest and a key restriction mechanism to prevent the propagation of damaged cells. However, the progressive accumulation of senescent cells with time has been associated with loss of tissue homeostasis, and is known to contribute to the functional impairment of different organs typically seen in ageing.

Research Studies

Recently, it has been shown that it also plays an important role in fibrosis and tumour progression, and that it may be involved in cataracts, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, arthritis, atherosclerosis and many other age-related conditions, which supports the hypothesis that senescence is an antagonistically pleiotropic process, with beneficial effects in the early decades of life but detrimental to fitness and survival at later stages. 

Consistent with this view, it has been reported that clearing senescent cells from tissues has a protective effect against cancer and the onset of age-related pathologies. Because of this great interest has been placed in a recently discovered group of drugs that can preferentially kill senescent cells, collectively known as senolytics, which have been shown to increase healthspan and lifespan of mice. These senolytics are emerging as a promising alternative.

New Study Showed Promising Results 

Researchers from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain and the UK’s University have designed an antibody that can recognise specific proteins on the cell surface of aged or senescent cells. The research study was published in the journal Scientific Reports in October 2021.

The researchers used a monoclonal antibody that was designed to recognise and attach to senescent cells, using a toxic load to destroy them, similar to how our antibodies spot microorganisms and protect us. They use an extracellular epitope of B2M, a recently identified membrane marker of senescence, as a target to senescent cells. 

Other non-senescent cells were not affected by the antibody, confirming the specificity of the treatment. They concluded that their results provide a proof-of-principle for the specific elimination of senescent cells using this senolytic, which could have clinical applications in pathologies related with aging. 


Poblocka, M., Bassey, A.L., Smith, V.M. et al. Targeted clearance of senescent cells using an antibody-drug conjugate against a specific membrane marker. Sci Rep 11, 20358 (2021).

Amer Bryce (2021, Oct 25) Want to live longer? These antibodies designed to destroy old cells could be the answer. EuroNews. Retrieved from:

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