Ageing Syndromes

We are working to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ageing syndromes, an increasingly vital area for health and social care in the UK.

More about Ageing research in Newcastle

The population of older people in the UK is set to expand, with the number of people aged 85 or above predicted to grow from 1.7 to 3.7 million over the next 20 years. This partly reflects improvements in the treatment of medical problems earlier in life, yet also presents challenges as the number of people living with ageing syndromes is set to expand rapidly.

Ageing syndromes are a set of conditions that often occur with one another and that can result in loss of function for people affected. In this theme we particularly focus on three ageing syndromes: sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and strength; frailty, where impairments across several of the body’s systems lead to a lack of reserve; and multimorbidity, defined as having two or more long-term conditions. These syndromes are common, with for example two-thirds of those aged 65 and above having multimorbidity.

Research into ageing syndromes in Newcastle

This theme is led by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Director, Professor Avan Sayer, and builds on Newcastle’s international reputation for basic science, epidemiological and clinical research in ageing. With the aim of facilitating the early translation of research findings, the theme works collaboratively with the BRC’s five research themes. A key benefit of this approach is that it allows existing experimental medicine expertise to be harnessed, such as that from mitochondrial disease, which to date has been little applied to ageing syndromes. We also have considerable experience of recruiting older patient cohorts, allowing us to both improve our understanding of how ageing syndromes develop, as well as allowing valuable patient participation in clinical trials.

Our aims

We aim to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ageing syndromes by:

  • Establishing new approaches in each research theme at the interface between ageing and long-term conditions
  • Building capacity in experimental medicine related to ageing and long-term conditions by providing support for intermediate clinical fellowships and related posts
  • Developing well-characterised and deeply-phenotyped cohorts of patients with a range of ageing syndromes and long-term conditions for use in prospective clinical studies

How we carry out research into ageing syndromes

We benefit from a range of facilities that support early translational research with older people, such as a dedicated Clinical Research Facility (CRF) and the Clinical Ageing Research Unit (CARU). We also have access to the Centre for In Vivo Imaging (CIVI), specifically the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre where we are able to develop new, non-invasive outcome measures. We have considerable experience in recruitment of older people to both observational studies and clinical trials; an area led by Professor Miles Witham, Chair in Trials for Older People. We collaborate with industry and participate in the international bodies responsible for developing diagnostic criteria for ageing syndromes, such as sarcopenia. We also have a major focus on capacity building for future clinical and non-clinical translational ageing researchers, through NIHR Newcastle Training.