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There is growing evidence that developmental and biological disruptions during the early years of life can lead to age-related diseases. By 2050 the number of people in the EU aged 80+ age group will increase by 170% with resulting health care spending increases. Healthy life expectancy must evolve parallel to these changes if cost increases are to be constrained. (The impact of ageing on public expenditure - DG ECFIN 2006, p. 133). Effective health policy across the lifecycle can support healthy aging of population. Traditional risk factors from adult life or even genetic predictors derived from studies of longevity are able to only predict a small fraction of variation in healthy ageing between individuals. Therefore there is a pressing need to identify of early life events and risk factors that determine health outcomes in later life.
EurHEALTHAgeing is a multidisciplinary project linking studies of early developmental processes with those on longevity and ageing by combining use of cutting edge technologies- post-translational modifications, DNA methylation, metabolomics and genomics with unique cohorts with multiple ageing phenotypes. We will use four key European study cohorts with rich early life data and age-related health outcomes. We will explore a unique twin dataset, two birth cohorts with extensive maternal, pre- and peri-natal data and a population based cohort of subjects in their 60s-70s. By analysing specific age related metabolomics, epigenetic (methylation and post-translational modification) data and correlating it to early life events, genetics and ageing outcomes we will provide major insights into developmental processes that influence longevity and ageing. By focussing on molecular mechanisms involved in both early life events and ageing we will find genes and metabolic and lifecourse pathways that are relevant in both early development and adult life.
This will also allow us to develop biomarkers of ageing that reflect the role of early development on ageing; potentially identifying pathways for therapeutic intervention when the process is still reversible.