Many years from now, you’re reclining in one of the many gray-blue armchairs that line the walls of a clinic. Your arm is propped up on a collapsible plastic armrest, and two thin tubes lead from your wrist to the slender white machine next to you, one tube delivering your blood to the machine’s mysterious inner chambers, the other returning new, improved blood to your body. Yes, this is dialysis, but your kidneys are fine and you’re not particularly sick; in fact, you’re relatively healthy for a person your age.
However, like all bodies of a certain age, yours has accumulated an unfortunate buildup of senescent cells, which have either divided too often or sustained too much damage to be allowed to replicate any further. The hallmark of these cells is the cloud of inflammatory signals that settles around them, agitating the surrounding cells with a bombardment of cytokines, growth factors and proteases, and laying the groundwork for inflammation-driven diseases like arthritis.
And that’s the job of the mysterious machine pumping away next to you: like a kidney filtering waste molecules out of the blood, this contraption removes the senescent cells circulating in your veins. The mechanism is surprisingly simple, too–since senescent