James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, is testifying before the Senate Special Committee on Aging today at 4 pm ET. WATCH LIVE
Below are some excerpts from Dr. Kirkland's scheduled testimony:
"I am a clinical geriatrician who sees patients, as well as a basic laboratory scientist. I am investigating ways to delay chronic diseases and disabilities by designing interventions that target the fundamental aging mechanisms that predispose us to these diseases.
"Age-related chronic diseases account for most of the morbidity, mortality and health expenditures borne by the people of the United States. Exciting, recent advances in our field are beginning to suggest that, by intervening in fundamental aging processes, we may one day be able to prevent, delay and cure multiple age-related conditions, including cancers, dementias, heart attacks, strokes, vascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, blindness, frailty and loss of independence, as a group, instead of one at a time."
Among the work that needs to be done soon is:
• Discovery and development of even more potential interventions, so we can maintain a pipeline of emerging treatments
• Testing effects of each potential intervention in multiple age-appropriate animal models of age-related chronic diseases, as well as in normal animals just with advanced chronological aging
• Testing across a range of species before we move to human studies
• Understanding and minimizing potential complications
• Testing of combinations of treatments in experimental animals to optimize outcomes and minimize side effects
• Conducting initial, small proof-of-principle trials in human subjects, and eventually full clinical trials.
Obviously, we cannot study the impact of such interventions on lifespan in humans. Also, successful interventions will need to be effective in older or at-risk subjects. Drugs that have to be given in early life to have a late-life effect will be difficult to study in humans.