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IBCS seminar - "Cell senescence causes ageing: But how, and what can we do about it?"

An Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science seminar
Date12 April 2017
Time15:00 to 16:00
PlaceEMS Building G18, St Luke's Campus

Speaker: Professor Richard Faragher, University of Brighton.


Abstract

The defining characteristic of population ageing is an exponential increase in mortality and morbidity with time.  Ageing populations are comprised of individual organisms gradually losing optimal functional capabilities (including the ability to mount an appropriate response to physiological stress).  Gerontology exists to understand why these changes occur, to uncover their mechanistic basis and to use that knowledge to improve human health.

Ageing seems to result from a failure of natural selection to remove late-acting lethal alleles or selection for ‘antagonistic pleiotropy’ - genes or processes which have beneficial effects on fecundity despite negative effects later in life.

Cellular senescence is a primary ageing mechanism in mammals and a plausible example of antagonistic pleiotropy. Transgenic mouse studies demonstrate that the removal of senescent cells in vivo extends healthy lifespan.  Small molecules which lengthen life such as rapamycin, metformin and resveratrol block the senescence-associated secretory phenotype.

However significant gaps remain in our understanding particularly (i) the relationship between senescence and the failure to adapt to physiological stress (ii) the degree of inter-individual heterogeneity in the senescent cell phenotype and (iii) the overlap between senescence and other mechanisms driving ageing such as altered RNA splicing. Accordingly I will discuss these.

 

About the speaker:

Richard Faragher is Professor of Biogerontology at the University of Brighton and is past Chair of both the British Society for Research on Ageing and the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology. He is the first British citizen to be elected to the Board of Directors of the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), the leading US non-profit organisation supporting and advancing healthy aging through biomedical research.

His primary research interest is in uncovering the causal mechanisms driving the human ageing process and in translating that knowledge into effective interventions which will improve the wellbeing of older people. His particular interest is the phenotype of “senescent” cells. These are cells which can no longer divide, frequently as a result of tissue turnover through life, and which accumulate in mammalian tissue. It has been shown that the deletion of these cells in animal models improves multiple markers of health, opening radical prospects for the improvement of human health in the future.

In July 2016, Richard received the highest honour of the British Society for Research on Ageing (BSRA) - the Lord Cohen of Birkenhead Medal for services to gerontology. The BSRA is the oldest scientific society in the world devoted to researching the biology of ageing.

 

A list of future speakers can be found at:

http://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/events/ibcsseminarseries/

 

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