Ageing of skeletal muscle results in a progressive loss of mobility that decreases the quality of life and has major economic and social consequences for society at large. Increasing muscle weakness is a major component of muscle ageing. In the elderly muscles become atrophic (loss in muscle mass) and weaker (loss in muscle force), more susceptible to damage and consequently regenerate and recover more slowly than was the case in their youth. The challenge for FP7 is to identify the relative importance of sarcopaenia, thus proposing standards to define healthy ageing in order to identify age-related muscle weakness; secondly to identify molecular pathways which may be targeted to combat normal age related muscle weakness, and thirdly to identify therapeutic strategies to prevent muscle loss and weakness and enhance recovery following injury or immobilisation. The approaches which we will take to understand and combat muscle weakness in the aged population and improve healthspan can be defined in several steps: the collection and collation of data and samples, the assessment of physiological and functional parameters, the understanding of the various biological mechanisms involved, leading through integration to the development of strategies and their translation for the general European population. In order to develop and propose the general public with efficient countermeasures, the consortium will integrate data from genetics and epidemiology, molecular and cellular biology, physiology, biomechanics, as well as clinical and public health aspects, to ensure optimal scientific synergy from the leading European specialists and companies.
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