Treating old age
Could your doctor prescribe drugs to assure a healthy lifespan, even in our older years? You just might be able to buy them in a decade or so. Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, who leads the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Biology of Aging and Metabolism, explained the new field of geroscience during UMRA’s January 2024 Living Well Workshop. She is a biochemist and physician who works with five other faculty and a large team of graduate students to identify and determine treatments for the biology of aging.
Why does this matter? Most people 65 and older have multiple chronic conditions. For the first time in our history, there will soon be more people over the age of 65 than under, and they will need an increasing number of people to care for them. If we solve a single disease, such as cancer, there are still enough other diseases that it wouldn’t make a dent in the overall picture.
Instead of focusing on one disease, Dr. Niedernhofer and her research team are targeting the risk factor common to most of these conditions, which is age, itself. For example, age is the greatest risk factor in heart disease. Their goal is to increase the healthspan of older adults, not necessarily the lifespan (total number of years lived.)
Senescent cells play a causal role in aging
The team’s focus is on senescent cells, cells that stop replicating or dividing and play a causal role in aging. Senolytics are drugs that are aimed at removing senescent cells. These include many natural products as well as drugs that are already FDA-approved and could be repurposed as gerotherapeutics. At least 40 clinical trials are now in progress nationally to test different senolytics. Dr. Niedernhofer is developing a statewide clinical trial network in Minnesota.
It still is important to eat well (and less, or at least over a shorter time period each day), exercise, avoid smoking, and follow other common healthy living advice.
To learn more about this innovative research into therapeutic approaches to aging, watch the video recording of the webinar. In addition, Dr. Niedernhofer provided a list of books, articles, and podcasts she thinks are valuable.
—Julie Sweitzer, UMRA president-elect and Program Committee chair
Therapeutic approaches to aging
Tue, January 16 2024, 11am
Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD
U of M Institute on the Biology of Aging and Metabolism
Event to be held via Zoom.
For many of us enjoying retirement, too often our daily lives are interrupted by aches and pains (or worse) that we attribute to age. The aging process seems inevitable. In fact, Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, the guest speaker for UMRA’s January 2024 workshop, says “Being old is the greatest risk factor for most chronic diseases.”
But what if you could take a pill to stop the negative effects of aging?
It may seem like science fiction, but University of Minnesota researchers are exploring therapeutic interventions to treat aging and prevent age-related diseases. Niedernhofer leads the Institute on the Biology of Aging and Metabolism and the Biology of Aging Medical Discovery Team, both in the Medical School. Her research is focused on DNA damage and repair. She and her colleagues are working to extend the period of time we are healthy and independent by slowing or reversing the aging process, itself.
For UMRA’s Living Well Workshop on January 16, Niedernhofer will share her work on the fundamental mechanisms of aging, and the future of pharmaceutics to lessen age-related conditions.
Please register for this webinar via Zoom and join us to learn more. It just might change your life!
—Julie Sweitzer, UMRA president-elect and Program Committee chair
Melissa Hortman, speaker of the Minnesota House and a 1995 graduate cum laude of the U of M Law School, will be the guest speaker for UMRA’s February 27 Forum. She will help us understand the 2024 legislative session and efforts at bipartisan cooperation.
Your UMRA Travel Committee has added a new Road Scholar tour in 2024 for members, "On the Road: Absolute Southwest - A Canyon Lands Adventure." The journey begins on Monday, October 28, 2024 to Friday, November 8, 2024. Register by March 1.
The UMRA Hiking Club will explore wildlife along the Mississippi River when it hikes the Pike Island Loop in Fort Snelling State Park on Monday, March 4.
Step aboard Oceania Cruises’ Marina on this UMAA trip and let your wanderlust guide you on an unforgettable 10-night journey through the vibrant heart of South America.
Explore life above the Arctic Circle with Janet and Craig Swan, and closer to home with Carol Urness when UMRA’s Armchair Traveler program meets via Zoom on Wednesday, March 6.
“Houses of worship” will be the theme when the UMRA Photo Club meets in person at the Hennepin County branch library in St. Anthony on March. Newcomers are welcome.
Mariah Snyder will lead the discussion of The Other Einstein, an historical novel by bestselling author Marie Benedict, when the UMRA Book Club meets via Zoom at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 15.
Do you ever wonder whether it’s OK to forget names and nouns but not verbs? During UMRA’s March workshop, neurologist Paul Schanfield, MD, will simplify common neurological conditions related to dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and guide us through identifying symptoms, prevention, treatment, and acceptance.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, a recipient of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and other awards, is the Fourth Friday Book Club’s selection for March. The setting is Appalachia in the early days of the opioid epidemic.
St. Paul-based journalist Fred de Sam Lazaro has reported from 70 countries focusing on the work of change agents to address the consequences of poverty. His remarkable perspective draws us closer to the people he meets and the challenges they confront. Join us to learn why and how he uses storytelling to enhance understanding of today’s pressing global issues.
The Retiree Association at Winona State is inviting UMRA members to join them a trip to Portugal in 2024. The final date to register is October 2, 2023. You're encouraged to register some time in August as spaces will fill up.
The UMRA Cabinets of Curiosity tour will be at the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) Conservatory & Botanical Collection on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. The amazing glass-walled greenhouse features four biomes with distinct climates, landscapes, and floras, with particular emphasis on plants of the southern hemisphere. Please plan to join us in this special opportunity to visit spaces not normally open to the public.
Enroll by June 30, 2023, and receive a $100 discount.
UMN Technology Commercialization facilitates the transfer of UMN innovation beyond the research lab by helping our diverse researchers in development of new products and services that benefit the public good, foster economic growth, and generate revenue to support the University's mission.
The UMRA Travel Committee is happy to offer another trip for UMRA members, The Splendors of Egypt. Please click on the above link for the itinerary, hotels, and other details. Final registration deadline: January 27, 2024.
This session will continue the discussion begun in the May 8, 2023 session. See that article for details.