Cancer incidence rises dramatically with age, with more than 90% of cancer diagnoses and deaths occurring in individuals over the age of fifty. Reasons for the increased incidence and lethality of cancer in association with aging are not well understood. While age-associated DNA damage, increased inflammation, and impaired immunity are known contributors, methods to mitigate their impacts are understudied. And although cellular senescence is a hallmark of aging, it is uncertain if it directly contributes to cancer development or progression, and validated biomarkers are lacking. Few preclinical studies consider cellular or organismal aging as a key parameter, and clinical trials are skewed towards younger, healthier patients.
The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research and The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation held a half-day workshop to address these unanswered questions. Scientific leaders came together to focus on the state of the field, major challenges, and scientific and translational opportunities for cancer and aging. Topics included senolytics as therapeutics to target aging and cancer, the impact of the aging microenvironment on tumor progression, and identifying and validating biomarkers of aging and cancer risks.
Following the workshop, The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research and The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation launched a joint Request for Applications (RFA) for collaborative projects to focus on Aging and Cancer, in line with our foundations commitment to accelerating research in key emerging areas of interest.