The journal Cell recently published an article titled “Geroscience: Linking Aging to Chronic Disease.” It was authored by some of the leading lights in the field of geroscience. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, geroscience is the study of aging and aging-related diseases. It is a relatively new term, but it's rooted in aging research, which has been going on for decades.
The article outlines the recent developments in the field of aging research and explains how experts are finding that aging is the prevalent risk factor for most diseases that limit healthy years of life. Spurred on by this research, the National Institutes of Health launched the Trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group in 2013 and held a geroscience summit. Noting that the elderly population is dramatically increasing, the article’s authors said more attention needs to be placed on aging research.
They also identity “seven pillars” of aging, intertwined processes driving the aging process. They are: adaption to stress, epigenetics, inflammation, macromolecular damage, metabolism, proteostasis, and stem cells and regeneration. Through study of these processes, experts hope to find ways to slow down aging.
The Alliance welcomes this article. As a co-sponsor of the 2013 summit and the sponsoring organization of the Healthspan Campaign, we have dedicated ourselves to supporting the expansion of geroscience research.
The concept of “healthspan,” like geroscience, is also a relatively new term. Healthspan is a measurement of the healthy years of our lifespan. It's the goal of aging researchers to increase our healthspan. (A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article highlighting this concept can be found here.)
The common connections between aging and chronic diseases are becoming more and more apparent. We look forward to the discoveries that will vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health.