NEW ways of treating the diseases of old age and understanding the process of ageing will be discussed at what will be one of the world’s largest meetings of experts.

The Science of Ageing – Global Progress, hosted by the University of Brighton, will bring together more than 200 gerontologists from over 20 countries.

The four-day conference, starting on Monday (July 11), will be the first ever joint meeting of the British Society for Research on Ageing (BSRA) and the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology (IABG)

Dr Elizabeth Ostler, principal lecturer in chemistry at the University of Brighton and organiser, said:

“For four days Brighton will become a global research hub in which the latest data will be shared.

“The goal of every scientist at the meeting is the same, to generate new knowledge about the mechanisms of ageing that can then be deployed to help older people look forward to longer, healthier and more dignified lives.”

The university’s Professor Richard Faragher, chairman of the British Society for Research on Ageing and one of Britain’s leading experts on the ageing process, explained what makes the science so exciting:

“Lifespans more than ten times greater than normal can now be achieved in laboratory animals – and the critical finding is that these increases in lifespan come about because the animals are much healthier than normal.

“This shows us that it is possible to combine long life with healthy life, something which most older people today fail to do.”

Professor Faragher said that since the foundation of the BSRA in the 1930s, the science of ageing had grown from simple and speculative beginnings to the point where translation of its findings into practice would be a realistic possibility if the will existed to do so.

He said: “When the BSRA was first formed its records show that there were only about 14 scientists in Britain and America studying how the ageing process worked.

“Today there are several hundred such researchers. This is still too few given the scale of the problem. However, these few have achieved real progress.

“As a trustee of Age-UK Brighton, Hove and Portslade, I see the daily needs of older people who have no wish to be considered a burden. This saddens me because I know that if the research at our conference were translated into practice it could lift older people out of dependency and change their lives for the better.”

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