As cells age, they reach a point when they stop dividing, or become senescent. Scientists believe senescence is key to preventing cancer, tumor growth and limiting tissue damage. With age, the number of senescent cells in the body increases; scientists are experimenting with removing them, which seems to postpone the onset of age-related diseases and increase lifespan.
Dr. Wulfmeyer studies senescence in the kidney. This year, her team will continue a collaboration begun with the Haller lab in 2019 to observe how senescent cells placed into zebrafish embryos affect development, particularly the development of organs and the vascular system (which is Haller's area of expertise). They are also testing compounds for their effectiveness at destroying senescent cells without killing or harming beneficial cells and tissues.