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A road map for European ageing research

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Molecular road map for healthy ageing

Due to the rapid increase in ageing populations, improvements in health care and socioeconomic conditions have led to higher health care expenses in Europe. 'A road map for European ageing research' (WHYWEAGE) is an EU-funded project that aims to improve quality of life for the ageing population and meet their health care needs.

Health

Ageing is often accompanied by vascular diseases like hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, skin changes, muscle loss, poor metabolism and neurological deficit. These degenerative changes are usually due to alterations in molecular mechanisms at the cellular level. Age-related disorders reduce quality of life, increase dependence on others and lower contribution to the work force or knowledge pool. The rapidly increasing aged population in EU also places a huge burden on governments and health care systems that are not adequately equipped to meet their needs. WHYWEAGE is an initiative established to identify areas of research for better understanding of molecular mechanisms of ageing and for finding solutions to improve quality of life. Twelve successful workshops were held with participants from 21 European countries, including industrial stakeholders along with scientists to provide technical and commercial perspective. Topics such as 'biomarkers of ageing', 'oxidative stress, protein damage and protein maintenance', vascular ageing, 'sarcopenia, muscle weakness and physical exercises', and 'clinical biogerontological studies' were addressed. Deficits in knowledge and technology were identified and research areas were prioritised based on criticality of intervention. The outcomes were used to develop a road map outline for EU research on ageing. Press conferences and individual project websites (see, for example, http://diamap.eu/) were used for information dissemination. The WHYWEAGE road map will guide the way for unravelling the mystery behind ageing at the molecular level. Healthy ageing would vastly improve the quality of life of the elderly and reduce health care and socioeconomic costs. This multidisciplinary coordination will lead to optimal research and technology development (RTD) to address the unmet needs of the ageing populations in Europe. The data will also guide policymaking and aid stakeholders in decision making with regard to pursuing commercialisation of technology options.

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