Intrinsic to ageing research is to find out how the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms of ageing contribute to age-related pathology and what might be the best targets for intervention. The development of biomarkers of human ageing is both extremely important and very challenging, reflecting the complex, heterogeneous and gradual nature of the ageing process and its contributions to disease.
We are trying to identify and validate biomarkers of ageing that can then be used to inform assessments of interventions and their impacts on disease progression. We also want to advance scientific understanding of the still elusive concept of 'frailty' and to understand the interaction between frailty, co-morbidity and treatment in the older individual through improved knowledge of target mechanisms, coupled with development of relevant biomarkers.
Much of our biomarkers work takes place on the Campus for Ageing and Vitality which provides an environment with world-class facilities and unique physical co-location. The Research Laboratories into Ageing accommodate multiple teams addressing fundamental mechanisms of ageing in human cells and provide facilities to investigate biomarkers requiring fresh biological samples. The Newcastle Brain Tissue Resource carries out underpinning histopathology. These facilities are adjacent to the Newcastle MR Centre and Clinical Ageing Research Unit supporting close interaction, and are linked by the Newcastle Biomedical Research Building housing the innovative CRESTA clinics for assessing complex, co-morbid conditions.
As well as the 'wet' lab based biomarker work, our Human Movement Laboratory is also contributing to biomarker development by evaluating gait as a biomarker for cognitive decline in neurodegenerative disease.