Members of the House of Lords will meet tomorrow to question academic experts about the fundamental processes of ageing.
The Lords’ Science and Technology Committee will use the information to help its inquiry into how science and technology can enable healthier living in old age.
There will be two sessions, the first of which will explore the biological mechanisms driving ageing and how these relate to physical health, cognitive function and mental health and the second of which will focus on biomarkers, and how they can be used for assessing and measuring the ageing process.
Experts attending session 1, which takes place at 10:25am in Committee Room 1, will include Professor Avan Aihie Sayer, director of the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre and Professor Richard Faragher, Professor of Biogerontology at Brighton University
Also in attendance will be Professor David Melzer, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Medical School at University of Exeter and Dr Jordana Bell, Senior Lecturer and Head of Epigenomics Research Group at King’s College London.
Questions that might be asked at this session are likely to relate to: how we understand the contribution of genetics to healthy ageing; epigenetics and the role it play in the ageing process; and whether our understanding of the influence of these processes as we age as thorough for mental health as it is for physical health.
The session on biomarkers, beginning at 11:25am will be attended by Dr Riccardo Marioni from the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine and the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at University of Edinburgh and Professor Graham Kemp, Professor of Metabolic and Physiological Imaging at Liverpool University.
The term biomarkers is used to apply to a wide range of indicators which can be used to assess ageing, including markers measured in blood or tissue, but also measures of physical or cognitive performance.
Questions are likely to relate to: whether we have reliable biomarkers (including of physical and cognitive capabilities) to determine how well or how poorly an individual is ageing; whether biomarkers of ageing are currently used in the NHS, or could be used in the future; and whether biomarkers are being used in clinical trials that target the ageing process to determine whether clinical interventions are having an effect on those markers.