Center for Integrative Biology | U Mayor

The Gero Center of the U. Mayor renews a project that has studied aging in Chile for 5 years.




Through the Center for Integrative Biology, directed by Dr. Felipe Court, various researchers are working on projects that seek to anticipate the onset of diseases and understand how genetic, social and environmental factors influence the way Chileans age. The initiative, which also includes the U. de Chile, is part of the Priority Areas Fund (FONDAP) and will run for five more years.

GERO is a project of the Fund for Priority Areas of Chile (FONDAP), which in 2016 created a National Center of Excellence that brings together researchers from the Universidad Mayor and the University of Chile to study the biological bases of aging and establish genetic and environmental variables. and social to understand how this process develops in the Chilean population.

The objective: to generate diagnostic tools and interventions that can reduce the appearance of neurodegenerative diseases associated with age, considering that in Chile, by the year 2050, one in four people will be over 65 years old, which implies changes in the composition age of the population and various social, health and economic challenges.

The Major University is associated with GERO through the Center for Integrative Biology, which is directed by Dr. Felipe Court, who together with Dr. César Cárdenas are principal investigators of this GERO project. In this renovation, Dr. Rene Vidal and Dr. Erick Riquelme, both from the Center for Integrative Biology, participate as associates.

All of them received the news a few days ago that the project will be renewed for the next 5 years, opening up new options to extend their studies and develop new lines of research.

So far the team works divided into two areas: experimental science, where the biological mechanisms of brain aging are studied through laboratory models and interventions are tested to delay this process and prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

In both areas the evaluation committee gave this project the maximum mark.

We have worked on many things and at many levels: we hold scientific talks and exhibitions for the general public; we have worked on public policies associated with aging and we have had a constant presence in the media to be able to disseminate the importance of these studies in our country ", summarizes Dr. Felipe Court, who adds that" at the laboratory level we have found genetic interventions and pharmacological that delay the development of cognitive loss associated with aging, in addition to interventions that positively modify the course of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's ”

At the individual level, this renewal of the project will allow Dr. Erick Riquelme to continue investigating alterations in the composition and function of the intestinal microbiota. “The changes in the intestinal microbiota associated with aging bring with them metabolic alterations, such as hyperglycemia and insulin resistance and dysregulation of the immune system. The intention is to establish, in the short term, a new line of research using pre-clinical and clinical models that allow us to understand the composition, functionality and molecular interaction between the microorganisms that make up the intestinal microbiota of aging subjects ”, he explains.

For his part, Dr. René Vidal works in a Basic-Clinical collaboration to determine biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases. “We project that the results obtained during this project will contribute to defining the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the aging process. Furthermore, based on these investigations, therapeutic interventions will be developed to improve the population's living conditions and make this stage healthier ”, he details.

Another member of the CIB is César Cárdenas, who affirms that “as a GERO group and Universidad Mayor we are committed to providing solutions that improve the quality of life of the elderly in our country. In this way, we hope in the near future to be able to carry out interventions at different levels (genetic, pharmacological, dietary) ”

In this way, the next challenge for researchers is to find strategies to advance to a translational stage, in order to transform these studies into clinical interventions.

“We have deeply learned cognitive, motor and psychosocial variables of aging in Chile, which is why we are now making progress in developing interventions that can reach the clinic. For example, in these years we will be developing a diagnostic test that allows us to predict the probability of developing Alzheimer's through a blood sample, which would allow early interventions and early management of the disease. If this development results, it would have a tremendous impact, ”concludes Dr. Court.


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