Scientific research into healthy ageing
The Dutch Society for Research on Ageing (DuSRA) has conducted research into (healthy) ageing under the following topics:
- Fundamental research using animal models to understand the mechanisms that promote healthy ageing and extend lifespan.
- Fundamental research in humans on the mechanisms at the basis of (healthy) ageing and/or long life expectancy.
- Translational research focused on finding the right interventions to promote healthy ageing in the different stages of the life of humans.
- Research focused on finding reliable biomarkers for the classification of the physiological health of seniors and the monitoring of the response to interventions.
Why is it necessary to research ageing?
Over the last 10 years, research has shown which molecular, cellular, physiological and functional changes signal ageing in both humans and model organisms. An important discovery in this has been that the life expectancy of animal models can be significantly increased by interventions targeting specific mechanisms. These mechanisms are involved in the clearing up of damage in proteins and DNA, the bio-energetic regulation by mitochondria and nutrient sensors and the vitality of (stem)cells. In humans, it is clear that physiological and molecular changes in such mechanisms start to take place as soon as adulthood is reached. From middle age, the progress and seriousness of these changes are characterized by an increasing diversity and are linked to the morbidity and mortality factor in later life.
The main molecular and cellular changes that can currently be measured relatively easily with modern technology are those in the metabolism and immune system. Even after the age of 70, shifts take place that increase physiological heterogeneity among seniors. Ageing is thus a very personal process in which the morbidity and mortality risks of individuals are determined by genetic background and pathophysiological changes in early development and throughout life. It is expected that the knowledge generated in this field of research will make possible the modulation of the fundamental mechanisms of ageing (though changes in lifestyle and/or treatment) as well as the classification of seniors and patients such that more personalized clinical treatments can be offered.