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Department of Oncology


Daniel Munoz-EspinDr Daniel Munoz-Espin, in collaboration with Dr Manuel Serrano (Institute for Research in Biomedicine, IRB, Barcelona) and Prof Ramón Martínez-Máñez (Polytechnic University of Valencia), has recently published a study in EMBOpress exploring drug delivery into senescent cells.

Senescent cells accumulate in multiple age‐related diseases, and eliminating these cells has recently emerged as a promising therapeutic approach.

In this article, the researchers take advantage of the high lysosomal content of senescent cells and their resultant high lysosomal β‐galactosidase activity, to design a drug delivery system based on the encapsulation of drugs with galacto‐oligosaccharides.

They demonstrate that galacto-oligosaccharides (gal-encapsulation) drugs are preferentially released into damaged tissues containing senescent cells, such as lung fibrosis in mice.  The release of gal-encapsulated doxorubicin into fibrotic lungs results in remarkable reduction in the abnormal amount of collagen present and in recovery of respiratory function.

This study presents proof of principle for the biological activity of a versatile encapsulation method that allows preferential delivery of small molecule drugs into diseased tissues containing senescent cells.

This drug delivery method therefore opens new diagnostic and therapeutic applications for severe diseases in which senescent cells accumulate, such as  premalignant lung lesions and pulmonary fibrosis. It may also serve as a companion treatment for cancer chemotherapy.