Mayo Clinic, collaborators working to advance aging research via clinical trials

Aging is the largest risk factor for most chronic diseases, and care for the elderly currently accounts for 43 percent of the total health care spending in the U.S. --- about 1 trillion dollars a year
August 19, 2016

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Mayo Clinic and other members of the Geroscience Network* have developed strategies for taking new drugs to clinical trials — specifically, drugs that target processes underlying multiple age-related diseases and disabilities. And they’ve written six supporting articles that appeared Wednesday Aug. 17 in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A – Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.

The Geroscience Network consists of 18 academic aging center, with the participation of more than 100 investigators from across the U.S. and Europe.

Aging may be a modifiable risk factor

“Aging is the largest risk factor for most chronic diseases, including stroke, heart disease, cancer, dementias, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, blindness and frailty,” said James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging.

However, he said recent research suggests that aging may actually be a modifiable risk factor. “The goal of our network’s collaborative efforts is to accelerate the pace of discovery in developing interventions to delay, prevent, or treat these conditions as a group, instead of one at a time.”

Felipe Sierra, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Aging and a member of the Geroscience Network, describes the potential impact of such discoveries in his article, “Moving Geroscience into Uncharted Waters.” He notes that in addition to the direct health issues, care for the elderly currently accounts for 43 percent of the total health care spending in the U.S,, or approximately 1 trillion dollars a year, and that this number is expected to rise as baby boomers reach retirement age.

“Reducing these costs is critical for the survival of society as we know it,” he said. “A 2013 paper by Dana Goldman and colleagues calculated that a just modest increase (2.2 years) in lifespan and healthspan could reduce those expenses by 7 trillion dollars by 2050.”

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Paul Glenn Foundation, Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence for the Biology of Aging, the Connor Group, and the Noaber and Ted Nash foundations.

The first two articles cited below are open-access.

* In addition to Mayo Clinic, members of the Geroscience Network are Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, National Institute on Aging, the Scripps Research Institute, Stanford University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Arkansas, the University of Connecticut, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, the University of Southern California, the University of Washington, and Wake Forest University as well as members from other institutions across the U.S. and Europe.