Ageing involves a progressive loss of physiological integrity and is the primary risk factor for a range of significant pathologies, such as metabolic, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.
It is of growing importance to the health sector and society, due to increased life expectancy having drastically transformed the population pyramid in the most developed nations, which currently have relatively elderly populations. Spain has one of the oldest populations, with a median age of over 44 years. Within Spain, Asturias is the autonomous community with the most elderly population, with a median age of over 48 years and almost 20% of its inhabitants aged 70 or over.
In order to provide suitable solutions to the health and social problems created by ageing, it is necessary to develop a comprehensive strategy for studying all the factors connected to this process. These factors include the molecular, genomic, metagenomic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the loss of biological functionality at a cellular and physiological level that characterises ageing. It is also essential to study the pathologies associated with these mechanisms, which affect individuals’ key functions. Particularly significant pathologies include neurological, vascular, musculoskeletal and immune disorders, which result in the particular frailty seen in the elderly. Research into these factors is key as a foundation for providing suitable care for elderly groups. We also expect this research to generate economically beneficial knowledge that may be transferred to society through the use of suitable intellectual property management tools.
ISPA contains a number of research groups working on programmes related to various aspects of the biology of ageing, as well as the clinical, medical and social management of the elderly population. The creation of a Cross-disciplinary Ageing Research Division in June 2020 provides a suitable framework to promote the integration of these groups’ research, facilitating collaboration and participation in multidisciplinary research projects.
The central objective of the Cross-disciplinary Division for Ageing Research is to generate scientific knowledge that increases understanding of this biological process and is able to help improve the health of the elderly population.
The research division’s general objectives, designed to achieve this overarching objective, are as follows:
- Identification of genetic, epigenetic, microbiological and environmental factors contributing to the frailty of elderly people.
- Description of the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms responsible for the biological changes associated with ageing.
- Characterisation of the most prevalent pathologies associated with ageing: brain and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as bone, cardiovascular, inflammatory, immunological and metabolic alterations.
- Development of new experimental approach, as well as new cell and animal models for ageing research.
- A comprehensive framework for studying frailty in the elderly population, and the design of community initiatives for active ageing and safety in elderly patients.
Further information is available in the research division’s section of Joint Scientific Plan (June 2020 version)
- Redox Biology and Metabolism in Cancer
- Oxidative Stress Knowledge and Advanced Research Group
- Genomics, Cancer and Ageing
- Cancer Epigenetics and Nanomedicine
- Bone Metabolism, Vascular Metabolism and Chronic Inflammatory Diseases
- Basic and Translational Research on Inflammatory Diseases
- Diet, Human Microbiota and Health
- Autophagy and Metabolism
- Translational Health Interventions
- Brain Ageing and Neurodegenerative Diseases
- Research in Psychiatry
- Basic-Clinical Research in Neurology
- Translational Immunology
- Functionality and Ecology of Beneficial Microorganisms (MicroHealth)
- Primary Healthcare
José María Pérez Freije
Dr. Pérez Freije is a researcher of the Genomics, Cancer and Ageing group, and since June 2020 he coordinates the Ageing Research Cross-disciplinary division.