The project aims to identify and agree on ways to develop research capacity by advancing infrastructure and resource development and avoid duplication within Europe. Results of these interactions will include reviews and SOP’s to inform ageing researchers across Europe on the best approach to cover topics divided into working groups that cover;
- Identification of standardised assessment methods for frailty and healthspan in different organ systems in mice
- Selection of mouse models of age-related disorders for preclinical testing
- Identification of future preclinical interventions for age-related disorders and review of the infrastructure required for efficient and cost-effective testing in animal models
- The availability and development of imaging and future technologies
The MouseAGE network includes experts from all over Europe, including academics, industrial partners and policy makers who met for the first time at the kickstarter meeting in Braga, Portugal in April, 2015.
The meeting involved a series of introductory talks to set the scene; with plenty of time allocated for round table discussions to assess the current standing in each area and brainstorm plans for the future.
Anne-Ulrike Trendelenberg from Novartis led discussions exploring issues surrounding assessment and measures of endpoints. Participants acknowledged that lifespan fails to capture important measures of quality of life which are better described by healthspan and frailty. However we are far from having accurate biomarkers, partly because research is fragmented by tissues and mechanisms and lacks standardisation. Specialists in organ systems described the assessment methods used in their field, including biochemical, genetic and phenotypic indicators of system functioning. These suggestions were documented and will, along with reviews of the literature, be used to compile an agreed suite of tests that have been refined and optimised to provide a robust measure of healthspan and frailty. Findings will be published in reviews and SOPs and disseminated to standardise methodologies across European investigators.
Working group 2 was charged with investigating models of ageing; specifically what is available, what are their limitations and what might be needed for future work. Paul Potter from MRC Harwell invited participants to describe the models they use in their research and the limitations they face. A wide range of models were described; including genetically modified, aged wild type mice and many types of stress induced models. Groups also discussed factors known to effect experimental results such as husbandry conditions and experimental timings. Beyond the meeting, this group will further the review of models currently available and the effect of husbandry conditions, making the results available in publications. In order to develop any missing models, funding applications will be made to fund their development.
Working group 3 investigated the range and types of interventions currently available such as lifestyle and pharmaceutical interventions and discussed where efforts should be mostly concentrated. They explored what criteria should be used to identify the suitability of new interventions for testing. This included debate on whether preventive interventions targeting common mechanisms of ageing were preferable to those targeting early signs of individual diseases and how easy was it to test preventive interventions in clinical trials. The outcome of the discussions will be made available through publications. Moving forward this group will also review an assessment of the skills and infrastructure available in Europe to test interventions and what can be done to develop this further.