Ageing

Our research focuses on understanding the drivers of age-related inflammation, how this contributes to age-related disease and developing innovative ways to improve health in old age.

Our world-leading medical and scientific experts are transforming the way chronic, debilitating and life-threatening conditions are prevented and treated.

Older patients rarely suffer from just one condition and are multi-morbid. Our discovery scientists, clinicians and patient partners are therefore working together to develop novel treatments for a range of age-related diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, osteoporosis, sarcopaenia, frailty, as well as multi-morbidity.

By tackling the fundamental biological mechanisms that drive the pathology across different age-related diseases – most notably inflammation – we aim to reduce the overall disease burden in our older patients. We are using novel approaches to clinical trials that allow us to test a single drug and determine if it can modify more than one disease, thereby speeding up the development of new drugs.

Lifestyle is also a key focus of our research; we are developing and testing innovative ways of increasing physical activity in older adults in order to reduce the causes of ageing, such as inflammation and promote musculoskeletal health.

A recent study that recruited 125 male and female amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 found that loss of muscle mass and strength did not occur in those who exercise regularly; the cyclists did not increase their body fat or cholesterol levels with age and the women maintained good bone density. These findings suggested that maintaining a high level of physical activity can prevent many of the negative aspects of ageing.

More surprisingly, the study also revealed that the benefits of exercise extended beyond muscle and bone as the cyclists also had an immune system that did not seem to have aged either. The findings come as figures show that less than half of over 65s do enough exercise to stay healthy and more than half of those aged over 65 suffer from at least two diseases.

“Hippocrates in 400 BC said that exercise is man's best medicine, but his message has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society.

However, our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail and prone to disease. Our research means we now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier.”

Professor Janet Lord

Professor Janet Lord

Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing

Our researchers

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    Find out about our researchers who work collaboratively within this field.