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Could future medications target the ageing process?

On Tuesday 10 March 2020, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will continue its inquiry into Ageing: Science, Technology, and Healthy Living by examining the research landscape for treatments for illness in old age, including to target the underlying processes of ageing.

The Committee has previously heard about the challenges of treating ill health in old age, particularly the issue of polypharmacy whereby drugs for different illnesses interact and cause harm. The Committee will consider the development of new medications, including drugs that would target the fundamental biological processes of ageing in order to address multiple illnesses with reduced polypharmacy.
The Committee will first hear from Research Councils about the biomedical research that they fund into ill health in old age.  The Committee will then hear from pharma companies, clinicians, and investor and author Jim Mellon of Juvenescence, to understand the barriers to developing and commercialising new drugs for treating ill health in old age, and to consider how the UK can benefit from its expertise in this area of research.
The evidence session will begin at 10.20am in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords. The witnesses will include:

  • Tamsin Berry, Director of the Office for Life Sciences;
  • Dr Alison Cave, Challenge Director for the From Data to Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine Challenge, UKRI;
  • Professor Fiona Watt FRS FMedSci, Executive Chair, Medical Research Council; and
  • Dr Louise Wood CBE, Director of Science, Research & Evidence, Department of Health Social Care; and Co-lead of NIHR.

The evidence session will begin at 11.25am in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords. The witnesses will include:

  • Dr Fiona Marshall, Academy of Medical Sciences; and VP Head of Neuroscience and Head of UK Discovery Research, MSD;
  • Jim Mellon, Co-Founder and Chairman, Juvenescence;
  • Dr Sheuli Porkess, Executive Director Research, Medical and Innovation, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI); and
  • Dr Lauren Walker, British Pharmacological Society; and Academic Clinical Lecturer, University of Liverpool.

Questions likely to be asked include:

  • To what extent is biomedical research into ageing supported in the UK, to develop new treatments including for targeting the fundamental processes of ageing?
  • Is the UK well-positioned to be a world leader in the field of pharmaceuticals targeting the ageing process?
  • Can (new or repurposed) drugs targeting the ageing process be ready for widespread use in time to contribute to the Government's target of five more years of healthy living by 2035?
  • Could biomedical research and new treatments exacerbate health inequalities?

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