As a Birmingham Elder, you will be asked to participate in real-life research projects that are making life-changing advances. Here are just a few of the projects that have used data from volunteers to make a real difference.
Statins help to save lives through pneumonia treatment
We know that statins – drugs used to lower cholesterol – help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke as we age. However, thanks to research supported by our Elders, we have discovered a whole new way to treat pneumonia.
Research led by Professor Janet Lord and Dr Liz Sapey had been trying to understand why older adults are more susceptible to infections such as pneumonia and also why they are sicker than young people when they do get these infections. The first study looked at an immune cell called the neutrophil, which is one of the main cells in the body that fights the bacteria that cause pneumonia. Using blood donated by healthy young adults and members of the 1000 Elders, we showed that the function of the neutrophil was reduced in the older adults and that the damage they cause was greater in older people.
While looking at ways to improve neutrophil movement, we found that statins in blood from 20 selected members of the Elders group helped their neutrophils move towards bacteria as well as those of a young person! The final test was to see if statins would also work in patients with pneumonia. We found that after just seven days of statins the patients had neutrophils that moved better and most importantly we had fewer deaths in the statin group. So with the help of our Elders, we have found a potential very new way to treat pneumonia patients and reduce deaths from this common disease.
The Birmingham 1000 Elders help to ensure people enjoy, not endure, old age.