Translating agents that target basic aging processes into interventions for major chronic diseases and age-related disabilities is a new field that could be transformative to basic and clinical research, clinical care, and health policy. The focus areas of the Mayo Clinic-led Translational Geroscience Network (TGN) are breaking ground within this new specialty.
Early-phase clinical trials
The TGN supports the development and coordination of translational early-phase trials of agents that target fundamental aging processes — specifically, independently funded "use case" trials of repurposed drugs for which preclinical or clinical data already exist. The network enhances such trials by developing, implementing, testing and harmonizing methods and standard operating protocols.
Examples include but are not limited to:
- A multicenter clinical trial of agents that selectively induce senescent cell apoptosis (senolytics) for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- The AFFIRM trial, testing a different senolytic drug to reduce senescent cell burden and alleviate frailty and inflammation in older women
- The VEME trial, testing the diabetes medication metformin for its ability to enhance humoral and cell-mediated immune responses to influenza vaccines
Based on experiences from these use case trials, the TGN intends to establish infrastructure to support multicenter trials testing agents that target aging processes across different age-related disorders.
Assaying aging processes
With a goal of establishing reference analytical capabilities potentially to serve as a national resource, the Facility for Geroscience Analysis — an existing cell senescence assay facility — selects, optimizes and validates assays of key basic aging mechanisms.
Statistical and data management support
The TGN provides a specimen tracking system to identify stored specimens that can be used to test new hypotheses in future studies. The TGN also helps researchers in the network select efficient study designs, provides sample size estimates and supports a common networkwide data-entry platform to facilitate cross-study comparisons.
Biobanking clinical trial samples
As new research questions are developed and new assays become available, the TGN will develop a system to biobank and coordinate applications for samples from various clinical trials and distribute the samples to approved applicants. The TGN will also establish and disseminate biobanking protocols and related information to the broader aging research community.