Benefits won’t accrue only to old people. Ageing processes get under way the moment we are born and their fingerprints are being found in surprising places, from pregnancy complications to childhood cancer treatment to the long-term effects of prophylactic HIV drugs. Finding ways to mitigate these processes is important across age cohorts.
The goal of these programmes is not to create billionaires that live to 500, but a society-wide eradication of frailty, high health expenditures in old age, and low quality of life. The goal is not years added to lifespan, but to “healthspan”, where health, wellbeing and quality of life remains high until death.
Selection of GESDA best reads and further key reports
In 2013, López-Otín et al published “The Hallmarks of Aging”, which detailed better ways to identify the progression of the ageing process at the molecular level, including cell senescence.1 In 2014, Kennedy et al published “Geroscience: linking ageing to chronic disease,” which argued that these fundamental processes of mammalian ageing can be delayed with genetic, dietary, and pharmacologic approaches.2 This became the basis of the approach now pursued by the US National Institute of Aging. Kirkland reviewed the work targeting senescent cells with senolytics.3 Barzilai’s investigations of the diabetes drug metformin as a potential tool to target the metabolic processes associated with ageing and thereby reduce mortality, has led to the creation of what will be the first major clinical trial to test drugs to slow the fundamental processes of ageing.4