The burden of age-related diseases continues to be a major European challenge and several initiatives are underway across the European Union to address the many different aspects of healthy ageing. These include:
- The strategic agenda of the European Innovation Partnership in Active and Healthy Ageing,
- Multiple Framework funded collaborative research projects such as EURHEALTHAGEING
- National or locally funded initiatives tackling specific aspects of age-related diseases.
Many of these initiatives involve interventions to delay adverse age-dependent changes in multiple cells and tissues. Successful development and pre-clinical testing of such approaches depend heavily on animal models that are relevant for human ageing.
Testing in mouse models is a critical step in the development of interventions for the prevention and treatment of ageing associated diseases. However, there is a real need for a Europe-wide consensus on the scientific approach. At present, there is a lack of meaningful, standardised testing conditions and agreed endpoints that facilitate the transition to clinical testing across European centres, as well as a lack of tools that allow an integrated and multi system assessment of the effects of interventions.
Moreover, to conduct scientifically robust preclinical intervention studies, expensive resources and interdisciplinary expertise are required.
For these reasons it is necessary that the research community on ageing comes together to share resources and know-how, avoid duplications, maximise outputs and be more competitive worldwide.
In the USA the National Institute of Health (NIH) has recognised the importance of reaching consensus and sharing resources in
preclinical interventions and so has established a centralised intervention testing programme (NIAITP) at the NationaI Institute of Ageing (NIA).
This COST Action (BM1402) will allow scientists in Europe to come together to communicate effectively, share expertise and collaborate more effectively, so providing an integrated network that will make European scientists and industry more competitive in ageing research worldwide and, by doing so, benefitting clinicians, their patients and ultimately society as a whole. Moreover, this COST Action will build an innovative and forward looking programme that will enhance the visibility of this area of research and ensure capacity building of a new generation of scientists with interdisciplinary and cutting edge expertise. COST is the only mechanism that funds networking, exchange and training programmes in the biological sciences area at the European level, so this Action will ensure European consensus on key research issues and provide a clear road-map to help target future research funding programmes.