UK networks aim to transform ageing

14 March 2022 | Muriel Cozier

‘How to keep people healthier as they live longer is one of the biggest challenges facing 21st century medicine and our society…’

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) are providing £2 million in funding to establish the UK Ageing Networks. The 11 networks, which will be supported by 28 UK Universities, are aimed at transforming research into ageing in the UK by providing researchers with ‘strong interdisciplinary platforms to integrate expertise and knowledge across disciplines’. The outcomes are set to provide a better understanding of the biological mechanisms of ageing and how to increase healthy lifespan and quality of life in old age as well as being translated for future policy, public health and new therapies.

The 11 networks will cover a variety of issues that can impact healthy ageing. The networks include: Muscle Resilience across the Course of Life; which will take a reverse engineering approach to understand the mechanistic pathways of muscle development, differentiation and decline. Researchers from the University of Birmingham, Imperial College London and University of Nottingham will look at areas including metabolism, regenerative medicine and genome science, with the aim of developing a roadmap to interventions that can add five more years of independent living.

The Building Links in Ageing Science and Translation (Blast) network, which is led by Queen’s University Belfast and University of Glasgow, will focus on identifying biomarkers of age-related poor health and understanding the mechanistic drivers of biological aging that diminish healthy life spans. The network will aim to indentify effective interventions in ageing processes.

Professor John Iredale, interim Executive Chair of MRC said; ‘How to keep people healthier as they live longer is one of the biggest challenges facing 21st century medicine and our society. To make greater progress we need to transform how we conduct ageing research, both by bringing together scientists from many disciplines with the public, clinicians, policy makers and industry. The new networks we are funding will build UK-wide collaborations to better understand the fundamentals of ageing, paving the way towards the development of novel interventions to prevent, halt or reverse aberrant ageing.’

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