Conference looks to biological ‘pillars of aging’

Conference looks to biological ‘pillars of aging’

Rather than beginning with the discrete health conditions and concerns common among older adults, conference organizers took the unique approach of focusing on aging itself as a primary factor impacting multiple chronic diseases and the declining ability to rebound from health challenges (also known as “resilience”). In doing so, GEMSSTAR scholars advanced our understanding of the concept that targeting age-related mechanisms might delay, prevent, or even reverse geriatric syndromes, age-related chronic diseases, and declines in resilience. Conference sessions also focused on new methods and strategies for studying these aspects of aging, and reviewed the challenges of studying age when older people often have been excluded from medical research.

Major themes that emerged from the conference include a need for increased attention to:

* The study of our human population as it ages. Most clinical trials still look for people who are “ideal,” such as people who do not have chronic diseases. However, researchers now understand the importance of ensuring pragmatic clinical trials reflect the full spectrum of health for older adults, particularly those who are frail. These individuals often are the most likely to live with multiple chronic diseases, which can be treated best when we understand how medications and other interventions will affect “real” as opposed to “ideal” people.

* The need for new tools to help older adults and caregivers adapt to changing health needs. Studying the biology of aging could yield even more approaches to aging-related disease prevention or treatment for geriatrics experts who will be needed in greater numbers as the world continues to age. For example, geriatrics health professionals are already adept at streamlining medication management for common conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. A better understanding of the interactions of resilience, metabolism, and inflammation with aging, however, could deepen these clinicians’ hypothesis that many common medicines prescribed for these conditions could play a role in supporting general health as we age.

Source: Report from prestigious NIH-funded conference looks to biological ‘pillars of aging’