By 2050 the number of people in the EU aged 65+ will increase by 70% and the 80+ age group will increase by 170% in the same period. If healthy life expectancy evolves broadly in line with the change in age-specific life expectancy, then the projected increase in spending on healthcare due to ageing would be halved (The impact of ageing on public expenditure – DG ECFIN 2006, p. 133). A healthy, active ageing population can be supported through effective health policy across the lifecycle. Such a policy requires an understanding of the ageing process including the identification of robust markers of cellular senescence and investigation of their role in ageing.
We have a major opportunity to address the lack of ageing biomarkers and improve our understanding of the genetic mechanisms of ageing. We propose a multidisciplinary project combining cutting edge RNA sequencing technology and novel high throughput telomere measurement with multiple ageing phenotypes. This unique data set will allow us to derive robust markers of cellular senescence which can be correlated with ageing phenotypes to investigate the role of cellular senescence in ageing. We will use both systems biology and genetic epidemiology approaches to explore this unique twin dataset. We hypothesise that obtaining and analysing specific age related RNA sequencing data from three tissues including skin (a readily accessible tissue), blood and fat will provide major insights into the ageing process in other systems. This will allow us to develop biomarkers of ageing in skin that reflect generalised ageing; potentially identifying targets for anti-ageing interventions.