Senescent cells (SnCs) have a role to play in the healing of wounds, but they tend to stick around afterwards, causing eventually more harm than they relieve.
A team of scientists led by Chaekyu Kim of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine used a senolytic drug, UBX0101, to clear out SnCs accumulating in the cartilage of mice that were recovering from cuts to the anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL – ligaments that cross over each other in an X shape behind the knees).
They chose this area to study because it has been noted that ACL injuries have a tendency to accumulate SnCs after injury, causing post-trauma osteoarthritis.
After the cuts, UBX0101 was injected into some mice.
The mice that received the injections did not suffer from osteoarthritis after healing from the cuts, and were able to regenerate cartilage lost during the injury.
Unity Biotechnology, who created UBX0101, received $116,000,000 in a round of investment last year, from investors such as Jeff Bezos, May Clinic Ventures, Venrock, and ARCH Venture Partners.
While this particular study was focused on osteoarthritis, SnCs can accumulate in all tissues in the body, so senolytic drugs (which trigger apoptosis in those cells to clear them) out can have a large range of uses.