The focus of the 40th annual meeting of the American Aging Association held June 3-6, 2011 in Raleigh NC USA was emerging concepts in the mechanisms of aging.
Many usual topics in aging were covered such as dietary restriction (DR), inflammation, stress resistance, homeostasis and proteasome activity, sarcopenia, and neural degeneration.
Newer methods like microRNAs and genome sequencing were employed to investigate gene expression variance with aging and genetic signatures of longevity.
Aging as a field continues to mature including by using a systems approach to tracing conserved pathways across organisms, sharpening definitions of sarcopenia, frailty, and healthspan, and distinguishing interventions by age-tier (early-onset versus late-onset).
A pre-conference session on late-onset intervention concluded that there are numerous benefits to deriving such interventions.
Conference talks applied the biology of aging in a translational manner to intervention development.
- Using an individual’s own stem cells to regenerate organs for transplantation and as a cell source for cellular therapies could be a powerful near-term solution to disease.
- Several proposed interventions were pharmaceutical, myostatin inhibition, losartan, JAK pathway inhibitors, and enalapril for frailty and sarcopenia, and metformin to promote Nrf2 anti-inflammation response.
- In dietary restriction, protein restriction was found to be better than general calorie restriction. Short-term fasting may be helpful in chemotherapy, surgery, and acute stress, simultaneously increasing the killing of cancer cells by chemotherapy, while improving the survival of normal cells.
- Immune system interventions remain elusive, although statins may help to improve cellular-senescence promoted bacterial infection.
- Engineered enzymes may be useful in lysosomal catabolism.
- Dietary restriction mimetics, most promisingly involving TOR (TORC1 inhibition and rapamycin), may be more feasible than dietary restriction.