Workshop yields new function-promoting therapy research
Experts have identified a public health need as well as strategic opportunities for the accelerated development of function-promoting therapies for older adults. They present new research on this topic in a supplemental issue of The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences inspired by a March 2022 workshop convened by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
The therapies addressed in the journal are those intended to prevent and treat functional limitations and physical disabilities associated with aging and chronic diseases. According to the opening article by Guest Editor Rosaly Correa-de-Araujo, MD, MSc, Ph.D., age-related loss of muscle mass, strength, and function increases the risk of serious complications such as mobility limitations, falls and fractures, loss of independence, disability, metabolic disorders, and mortality. Across 15 additional articles, other authors highlight challenges and opportunities for establishing new function-promoting therapies, described as a "public health imperative."
Correa-de-Araujo, who serves as a senior scientific advisor at the NIA's Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, said she sees a viable model in the recent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which motivated efforts among various stakeholders—multiple government agencies, the pharmaceutical industry, academic investigators, and others—to rapidly and successfully develop new vaccines.
"In aging, similar complex and coordinated efforts can be taken to accelerate the development of function-promoting therapies to address the aging-related loss of muscle mass, strength, and function and the consequent serious adverse effects on health span and quality of life," Correa-de-Araujo wrote. "The knowledge shared in this special issue has the potential to facilitate such partnerships at national and international levels to address a pressing public health need and to enhance the health, functional independence, and quality of life of older adults worldwide."