A groundbreaking study on therapy-induced senescence in tumor cells

A groundbreaking scientific study, emerging from the CRIMSON project and recently published in the esteemed international journal Science Advances, has delved into a previously poorly understood facet of cancer: therapy-induced senescence in tumor cells. This remarkable achievement stems from a collaborative effort involving researchers from Politecnico di Milano, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori di Milano, and the Italian National Research Council. It not only enhances our comprehension of cancer biology but also lays the foundation for future therapeutic breakthroughs.

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Cancer continues to pose a formidable global health challenge, claiming millions of lives annually. Conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy remain the primary approaches to combat neoplasms. Nevertheless, a small fraction of treated tumor cells, referred to as “therapy-induced senescent” (TIS) cells, display resistance to traditional therapies, resulting in tumor dormancy and eventual recurrence.

The collaborative team embarked on a mission to unravel the biological mechanisms underpinning the formation of TIS cells. Employing advanced optical microscopy techniques, they combined three-dimensional holograms of tumor cells with ultra-short pulses of laser light, with an astonishingly brief duration of just one millionth of one millionth of a second, to identify biomolecules based on their characteristic vibrations. These cutting-edge tools enabled them to investigate both the chemical and morphological aspects of TIS cells within human tumors. Notably, this study was conducted without invasive methods, preserving the natural state of the cells.

The outcomes of this research are exceedingly promising. The research collective successfully distinguished crucial characteristics of TIS cells within human tumor cells, shedding light on their early emergence. These properties encompass the reorganization of the mitochondrial network, an overproduction of lipids, cell flattening, and enlargement. By scrutinizing a substantial number of cells, the researchers established a clear timeline for the development of these distinctive indicators.