White mouse

The University of Cambridge has received UKRI funding for research on age-related biological changes in model organisms as part of a national collaboration.

‘Prevention is better than cure’ and so our project will generate a reference map that we will use in the future to assess interventions that could prevent ageing related health decline

Walid Khaled

UKRI funding of £3 million is awarded today to support a new research cluster, as part of the MRC National Mouse Genetics Network (MRC NMGN), focused on improving existing models of ageing with the aim of improving lifelong health and wellbeing. The cluster is led by scientists at the Universities of Cambridge and Newcastle.

The MRC NMGN focuses on age-related biological changes in model organisms, particularly the mouse, to try and improve our understanding and diagnosis of the most challenging disease area of our time - and generate therapeutic avenues.

This award brings the UKRI’s total investment in the MRC NMGN to £25 million.

The need to improve how people age has become a major requirement of modern societies. Regular increases in life expectancy result in older populations, making healthy ageing essential for a better quality of life and a reduced burden on health and social services. 

Understanding the biological mechanisms underlying the ageing process is paramount for tackling the challenges brought about by our older populations.

The new tools generated as a result of this research will be made available to the scientific community to improve understanding of the ageing process, and to provide a resource for preclinical testing and intervention.

Professor Walid Khaled from Cambridge’s Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and Department of Pharmacology, and Co-lead of the new MRC National Mouse Genetics Network Ageing Cluster, said: “I am very pleased to be co-leading this project from Cambridge and I am looking forward to working with the rest of the team from around the UK. ‘Prevention is better than cure’ and so our project will generate a reference map that we will use in the future to assess interventions that could prevent ageing related health decline.”

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research & International Partnerships) and Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics at Cambridge, said: "Collaboration is central to our research activities in Cambridge. The new Ageing Cluster is a fine example of multiple institutions working together to add value and bring exciting new insight and expertise to advance the critically important field of healthy ageing. I am proud to be part of this important initiative which can deliver new routes to improved health span."

Professor David Burn, Pro Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University, added: "I am delighted that Newcastle University is an important part of the UKRI Mouse Genetics Network Ageing Cluster.  This cluster offers researchers the opportunity to develop new animal models so that we may better understand ageing.  This, in turn, will allow us to translate this research into extending healthy lifespan in humans in the future.”

The University is bringing together its world leading expertise to tackle the topic of extending the healthy lifespan. Scientists in the School of Biological Sciences are addressing some of the biggest questions in human biology, including: What if we could identify those at risk of developing chronic age-related conditions before they present in the clinic? What if we could intervene before any symptoms arise and prevent disease onset?

UKRI’s strategy for 2022-2027 aims to harness the full power of the UK’s research and innovation system to tackle major national and global challenges. A total of £75m has been allocated to the theme of Securing better health, ageing and wellbeing, which aims to improve population health, tackle the health inequalities affecting people and communities, and advance interventions that keep us healthier for longer.

Read more about Cambridge research into extending the healthy lifespan.

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