SENSE and SENESCENCE: Investigating innate immunity in aged cells

FUNDING: 8 weeks (full time 35 hours per week, £10.90 per hour, consumables £800)
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LOCATION: Leeds Beckett University, UK

Dr. Jas Kohli, Biomedical Sciences Dept., Leeds

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Cellular senescence is a state of cell-cycle arrest which increases in frequency with age and contributes to various age-associated diseases such as cancer and heart disease, as well as mortality from viral diseases such as SARS-CoV2, through the generation of an inflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). However, it is unknown how senescence and the SASP contribute to this. Pathogen-mediated innate immune activation in senescent cells may cause this hyperinflammatory state, contributing to increased mortality from infections in old age. Compounds targeting SASP regulation may therefore be novel beneficial measures against infections in aged individuals. The proposed project will test this proof-of-concept hypothesis by; comparing the innate response to nucleic acid stimulation between non-senescent and senescent cells and examining whether compounds known to target the SASP are beneficial in reducing inflammation in senescent cells upon innate immune stimulation. These research strands will involve in vitro cell culture and transfection, RT-PCR, western blotting, and microscopy. Students will be expected to present their findings orally at a research day in York in September 2024.