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By 2050 over 28% of the population of Europe is projected to be aged over 65 years of age. Populations around the world are becoming older, and ageing-related disorders will form an ever-increasing burden for health and social services budgets. Studies in this field are not only important for these reasons but also becoming more exciting as we begin to understand the fundamental molecular processes that lead to ageing and its symptoms, with developing hopes of being able to alleviate those symptoms. A wide range of excellent research across various centres in the MCS Institute falls under this theme, involving topics such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, movement disorders, cell senescence and cancer.


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Cardiovascular ageing

Work by the sports medicine team includes studies on veteran athletes and the amount of exercise that really is good for the heart in older people. Others are studying a wide range of age-related heart conditions including atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease and types of angina. There is also research on arterial disease; both causes (role of the immune system in atherosclerosis) and treatment: our high-impact research on surgical approaches for weakening (aneurysm) of the wall of the main artery, the aorta.

Principal investigators in this area:

  • Stephen Brecker

  • John Camm (Emeritus)

  • Ingrid Dumitriu

  • Peter Holt

  • Juan Carlos Kaski

  • Giuseppe Rosano

  • Sanjay Sharma

  • Mary Sheppard

  • Kate Stenson

The brain and ageing

Dementia is studied at St George’s from several points of view, including causes, diagnosis and treatment. A group in Cell Biology is studying how vascular dementia develops, and the cellular mechanisms. Research in Neurosciences, in collaboration with a European consortium, is testing how loss of language skills can help in diagnosis of different kinds of dementia. St George’s is also leading a trial in dementia treatment. Parkinson’s disease is one of the conditions for which the Movement Disorders group is developing a novel therapeutic approach involving deep brain stimulation.

Principal investigators in this area:

  • Mark Edwards

  • Peter Garrard

  • Atticus Hainsworth

  • Francesca Morgante

  • Erlick Pereira

Cancer, cell senescence and ageing

Our researchers are using a range of platforms and cutting-edge techniques to study various cancer types. In Neurosciences, novel modes of analysis of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are being used to develop more precise visualization for the detection of brain cancers. The MRI group are also collaborating with the I&I Institute in analysis of inflammatory bone-marrow lesions in osteoarthritis. Researchers in cell biology are studying the functions of a set of poorly-understood proteins needed for DNA replication, and which are sometimes mutated in cancer cells. Others have been combining genetic, molecular and histopathological approaches to understand how melanoma skin cancer cells escape from cell senescence, which is a state of permanent arrest of cell division that normally suppresses tumour development, and is also involved in ageing disorders. Cell biology associates in IMBE are using sophisticated 3-dimensional culture and imaging methods, for the better understanding of how prostatic cancer cells become malignant and invasive. Others in IMBE and also in Vascular Biology are studying the molecular mechanisms of drug actions for pancreatic and other cancers. Cancer research is also conducted in the Institute for Infection and Immunity. 

Associated with this theme is the valuable facility, the Wellcome Trust Functional Genomic Cell Bank page.

Principal investigators in this area:

  • Tom Barrick

  • Dot Bennett

  • Sue Cotterill

  • Androulla Elia (IMBE)

  • Franklyn Howe

  • Daniel Meijles

  • Elena Sviderskaya
  • Ferran Valderrama



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