The world is rapidly ageing, entailing significant consequences for the global society and economy, while the fast developing biomedical science and technology stand in the forefront of defense against the potential risks. These two processes bring gerontology, describing the challenges of ageing and at the same time seeking means to address those challenges, to the focus of the global scientific, technological and economical discourse.
Ageing can be understood at various levels, from evolutionary and biological levels to psychological and sociological ones. At the molecular biological level ageing is characterized by the stochastic occurrence and progressive accumulation of molecular damage. Altered cellular functioning and reduced stress tolerance are the determinants of health status, probability of diseases and the duration of survival. The inefficiency and imperfection of the maintenance and repair systems underlie the biological basis of ageing. Gene therapy, stem cells, and modulation through functional foods, calorie restriction, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals and other life style alterations are examples of ageing interventions.
In view of the immense significance of degenerative ageing processes for the emergence of virtually all diseases, both communicable and non-communicable, and in view of the accelerating development of potential means to intervene into and ameliorate these processes for the sake of achieving healthy longevity, contributions to this field have ever greater global significance.
Inhibition of ageing and prolongation of life in laboratory animals prompts similar possibility for humans due to unique mechanisms of ageing. Expanded knowledge on ageing is in the first line of prevention of such exhaustive pathologies as cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, diabetes mellitus type II, Alzheimer disease. The therapy based on fundamental mechanisms of ageing will contribute to health maintenance.
Achieving the goal of extended health-span will depend on elucidating and exploiting successful and dynamic interactions among biological, psycho-social and environmental factors. This understanding of ageing should transform our approach towards interventions from therapeutic ‘‘anti-ageing’’ to maintaining health which is according to WHO definition is a state of complete physical and mental independence in activities of daily living. Age-related health problems for which there are no clear-cut causative agents, except the complex process of ageing, may be better tackled by focusing on health mechanisms and their maintenance, rather than disease management and treatment. Supporting health-oriented research is the urgency of our time.
This Symposium is aimed to overview evidence-based references and scientific argumentation in favor of means and methods preventing age-related pathology and prolonging sustainable health, as well as to estimate prospects and efficacy of explored geroprotectors with their further recommendation for medical practice.
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