Aging: It’s a topic that impacts each and every one of us. It’s the single greatest risk factor for most chronic diseases, which account for the majority of morbidity and health care expenditures in developed nations. In a recently released book, “Aging: The Longevity Dividend,” experts in the field explore the topic and concurrent research in-depth and call for aging to be brought into the limelight.
Linda Partridge of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing synthesizes the opportunity at hand in a Nature review of the book. “Basic science and human demographic studies have delivered an unprecedented opportunity to tackle the comorbidities of later life,” says Partridge. “To translate these discoveries into drugs and changes in medical practice, and to reap the consequent economic benefits, will require some radical changes: breaking down disease siloes, training a new generation of physicians and scientists capable of working across disciplinary boundaries, and altering public attitudes and policy.”
This may seem like a tall order, but researchers at the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, including James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., have devoted their livelihood to this very goal. Dr. Kirkland, Director of the Center on Aging, is an editor on “Aging: The Longevity Dividend” along with S. Jay Olshansky, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and George M. Martin, M.D., of the University of Washington. In a chapter titled, “Translating the Science of Aging into Therapeutic Interventions,” Dr. Kirkland addresses challenges of developing new drugs to target aging.
“While the challenges may be many, we have a great appreciation for the enormity of the human, social and fiscal implications of increasing health span – the healthy, productive time in life – and improving the quality of life for older adults,” says Dr. Kirkland. “This book sets the stage for the next evolution in the field of aging.”
The Center on Aging brings together basic scientists and clinicians to focus on delaying the aging process as a whole, as opposed to tackling individual age-related diseases. Recent research from the Center supports the possibility that using specific drugs to target senescent cells – cells that contribute to frailty and disease associated with age – could eliminate or delay diseases associated with aging. To learn more about age-related research, visit Mayo Clinic’s News Network and continue to follow Discovery’s Edge.
– Megan Forliti