AwE Publications

Ageing with elegans: a research proposal to map healthspan pathways

Walter Luyten, Peter Antal, Bart P. Braeckman, Jake Bundy, Francesca Cirulli, Christopher Fang-Yen, Georg Fuellen, Armand Leroi, Qingfei Liu, Patricia Martorell, Andres Metspalu, Markus Perola, Michael Ristow, Nadine Saul, Liliane Schoofs, Karsten Siems, Liesbet Temmerman, Tina Smets, Alicja Wolk, Suresh I. S. Rattan

Biogerontology. 2016 Apr 4.


Human longevity continues to increase world-wide, often accompanied by decreasing birth rates. As a larger fraction of the population thus gets older, the number of people suffering from disease or disability increases dramatically, presenting a major societal challenge. Healthy ageing has therefore been selected by EU policy makers as an important priority (http://​www.​healthyageing.​eu/​european-policies-and-initiatives); it benefits not only the elderly but also their direct environment and broader society, as well as the economy. The theme of healthy ageing figures prominently in the Horizon 2020 programme (https://​ec.​europa.​eu/​programmes/​horizon2020/​en/​h2020-section/​health-demographic-change-and-wellbeing), which has launched several research and innovation actions (RIA), like “Understanding health, ageing and disease: determinants, risk factors and pathways” in the work programme on “Personalising healthcare” (https://​ec.​europa.​eu/​research/​participants/​portal/​desktop/​en/​opportunities/​h2020/​topics/​693-phc-01-2014.​html). Here we present our research proposal entitled “ageing with elegans” (AwE) (http://​www.​h2020awe.​eu/​), funded by this RIA, which aims for better understanding of the factors causing health and disease in ageing, and to develop evidence-based prevention, diagnostic, therapeutic and other strategies. The aim of this article, authored by the principal investigators of the 17 collaborating teams, is to describe briefly the rationale, aims, strategies and work packages of AwE for the purposes of sharing our ideas and plans with the biogerontological community in order to invite scientific feedback, suggestions, and criticism.

Living Long and Well: Prospects for a Personalized Approach to the Medicine of Ageing

Fuellen G.a · Schofield P.l, m · Flatt T.k · Schulz R.-J.e · Boege F.g · Kraft K.b · Rimbach G.h · Ibrahim S.i ·Tietz A.f · Schmidt C.c · Köhling R.d · Simm A.j

Gerontology. 2015 Dec 17

aInstitute for Biostatistics and Informatics in Medicine und Ageing Research (IBIMA), bChair of Complementary Medicine, cOffice of the Medical Director, and dOscar Langendorff Institute of Physiology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, eDepartment of Geriatric Medicine, St. Marien-Hospital, and fGesellschaft für Gesundes Altern und Prävention, Cologne, gInstitute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics, Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, hInstitute of Human Nutrition and Food Science, University of Kiel, Kiel, iLübeck Institute of Experimental Dermatology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, and jClinic for Cardiothoracic Surgery, University Hospital Halle, Halle (Saale), Germany; kDepartment for Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; lDepartment of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; mThe Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA


Research into ageing and its underlying molecular basis enables us to develop and implement targeted interventions to ameliorate or cure its consequences. However, the efficacy of interventions often differs widely between individuals, suggesting that populations should be stratified or even individualized. Large-scale cohort studies in humans, similar systematic studies in model organisms as well as detailed investigations into the biology of ageing can provide individual validated biomarkers and mechanisms, leading to recommendations for targeted interventions. Human cohort studies are already ongoing, and they can be supplemented by in silico simulations. Systematic studies in animal models are made possible by the use of inbred strains or genetic reference populations of mice. Combining the two, a comprehensive picture of the various determinants of ageing and ‘health span’ can be studied in detail, and an appreciation of the relevance of results from model organisms to humans is emerging. The interactions between genotype and environment, particularly the psychosocial environment, are poorly studied in both humans and model organisms, presenting serious challenges to any approach to a personalized medicine of ageing. To increase the success of preventive interventions, we argue that there is a pressing need for an individualized evaluation of interventions such as physical exercise, nutrition, nutraceuticals and calorie restriction mimetics as well as psychosocial and environmental factors, separately and in combination. The expected extension of the health span enables us to refocus health care spending on individual prevention, starting in late adulthood, and on the brief period of morbidity at very old age.