At Oisín we believe that the solution to mitigating the effects of age-related diseases is to address the damage created by the aging process itself.
When cells detect that they have been irretrievably damaged, they enter a non-dividing condition known as cell-cycle arrest, or senescence. It’s believed this occurs to prevent cells from going “rogue” and turning cancerous. Ideally, they should die by the process known as apoptosis, but in this case, they don’t. They become “zombie cells” – unable to kill themselves or resume normal function. Senescent cells secrete molecules that cause inflammation in an effort to attract immune cells that would usually clear them. But for reasons that are not fully known, as we age, persistently senescent cells accumulate, leading to a large number of age-related diseases.
Oisín is developing a genetically-targeted intervention to clear these cells. As a recent study has shown, clearing senescent cells both reduces negative effects of aging pathologies and also extends median lifespan and survival.*
* Baker, Darren J., et al. "Naturally occurring p16Ink4a-positive cells shorten healthy lifespan." Nature 1038.16932 (2016)