Biology of ageing

Fundamental research is essential to develop treatments for diseases Key area
Human life expectancy has almost doubled in the last 150 years. Increased life expectancy has improved personal wellbeing and has contributed significantly to societal prosperity. However, age is also the highest risk factor for susceptibility to diseases. Many elderly will become frail, a state of increased vulnerability resulting from the age-associated decline of cells and tissues. One of the most urgent societal and scientific challenges will be to increase the ability of elderly to resist functional decline and become resilient.

To increase health in elderly at risk to become frail we need to understand the biological cause of their frailty and increase resilience to the detrimental consequences of aging. Importantly, a substantial number of elderly is remarkably fit, and appear resilient to many aspects of the aging process. This demonstrates that the human body in principle can defy many of the debilitating aspects of aging.

During the last decade significant progress has been made towards identifying individual mechanisms that contribute to the demise of molecules, cells, and organisms during the aging process. Although we still do not know to what extent aging is modifiable, for the first time the prospect of increasing resilience to aspects of the aging process by targeted interventions seems now feasible.

Our approach:

Is to identify critical molecular interactions associated with frailty, and elucidating the molecular, cellular and organismal origin of heterogeneity of the aging process. This approach will allow us to develop interventions aimed to increase resilience, and add life to lifetime.

We will focus on 4 key aging pathways that have individually shown to be modifiable: the (epi-)genome, the protein-quality machinery, metabolism, and regeneration and senescence.

Collectively, these will allow for the rational development of individualized treatment strategies aimed to prevent, delay, or reverse frailty in vulnerable elderly.

More information visit the: Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems.