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Newsletter: MouseAGE in Braga

Lively debate at the first meeting of EU COST action MouseAGE sees development of strategies to test preclinical interventions in mouse models of ageing and age-related diseases

There is no doubt that people are living longer – and the impending pressure on health care systems from the simultaneous rise in age related diseases put these organisations under severe pressure.  The question is what can we do about it?

Professor Ilaria Bellantuono, Chair in musculoskeletal ageing at the University of Sheffield, has established MouseAGE – a highly collaborative network of researchers across Europe who aim to establish consensus on preclinical testing of interventions in mouse models of age and age-related diseases.

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.
Part of the roadmap to ensuring ageing research is at full capacity involves identifying and championing new technologies that will reduce costs and increase the speed and capacity of testing interventions as well as reducing the number of animals used. WG4 lead Natal van Riel from Eindhoven University of Technology and Peter Allegrini from Novartis described the current standing of this technology, including in vivo imaging, sensing and modelling techniques. During discussion, participants spoke of the work taking place in their institutes and reviewed existing technologies for its suitability in intervention studies. Discussions will be carried over to a workshop planned for 2016 which will see the start of the development of a ‘digital ageing mouse’ which will capture information from experimental work and once complete allow predictive in silico testing of ageing interventions in mice and better translate data from mouse models to humans.
The discussions held over these 3 days will continue over the coming months as each group works towards producing reviews, guidelines and SOPs that will inform ageing researchers across Europe as well as initiate funding applications for experimental work to drive forward ageing research. It will ensure ageing research remains high on the agenda for European agencies and attracts the very best talent to continue the research momentum into the coming years; ultimately ensuring Europe ages healthily.
If you are interested in the work of MouseAGE and would like to find out more, please visit or contact
Now recruiting - New Member for the Management board

ShARM is an innovative facility developed for and run by investigators from the ageing research community aiming to accelerate research into ageing. We are currently looking to appoint a new member of the management board. The position is voluntary (travel expenses will be covered) and offers the opportunity for an individual to shape and develop a pioneering facility.

To find out more about the role and for details on how to apply click here.

17,000 Tissues now Available in the Biorepository
Available tissues are either flash frozen or formalin fixed and paraffin embedded. Tissues are priced at £35 for aged tissue and £30 for young controls (+ VAT + shipping costs) and are available for immediate purchase. Check the database for more details: (you must be registered to view the list)

Tissues available

Live Ageing Colonies

We are anticipating the harvest of male, 12 and 23 month old, C57Bl/6JBabr mice. If you would be interested in having any tissues not already available in the biorepository, please send your request to


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