DKFZ: New research project on age-related diseases
The German Cancer Research Center and the Helmholtz Zentrum München will be coordinating a project called “Aging and Metabolic Programming”, or AMPro for short, over the next three years. All centers of the Helmholtz Health Research Section will be involved with the aim of exploring innovative prevention and treatment approaches to age-related diseases. Of the total funding of six million euros, around 1.5 million euros will remain at the German Cancer Research Center.
To address the issue of the rise in age-related diseases, in November 2017 the Helmholtz Association launched the AMPro project, which is being financed through the Initiative and Networking Fund*.
AMPro is being coordinated jointly by Aurelio Teleman at the Department of Cancer and Metabolism-Associated Signal Transduction of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and by Stephan Herzig, Director of the Institute for Diabetes and Cancer at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. Over the next three years, scientists from all centers of the Helmholtz Health Research Section** will receive a total of six million euros for their work, 1.5 million euros of which will remain at the DKFZ.
“Significantly improving the quality of life of individuals”
Due to increasing life expectancy throughout the world, age-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory and neurodegenerative diseases and chronic infections are emerging as a growing challenge for patients, doctors, the healthcare system and society as a whole.
Among other things, the AMPro consortium is seeking out new preventive and therapeutic approaches that have a positive effect on metabolic processes. This should enable the innovative and consistent treatment of age-related diseases. The following key aspects of metabolic processes associated with aging will be investigated:
• Prenatal and postnatal mechanisms of metabolic programming at the genetic and epigenetic levels
• Mechanisms of organ and tissue communication
• Tissue and cellular repair mechanisms
The long-term goal is to improve health in an aging society. “AMPro will enable us to significantly improve the health and quality of life of individuals and, in the mid-term, reduce the socioeconomic burdens on our society”, says coordinator Stephan Herzig. “AMPro creates ideal conditions for successfully tackling one of the most pressing issues in today’s society and meeting the challenges of age-related diseases.”
* The Initiative and Networking Fund is one of the Helmholtz Association’s key funding instruments. The Fund makes it possible to set initiatives rapidly and flexibly in areas where strategic goals are to be reached quickly. Its annual funding budget will grow from its current level of 89 million euros in 2016 to around 94 million euros in 2020.
** These are the follwing: German Cancer Research Center, Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the Helmholtz Zentrum München
The sensitivity to the aforementioned diseases is increasing during the ageing process. This suggests common fundamental molecular mechanisms but these are so far poorly understood. The aging process is characterized by a progressive change in the control of metabolism and the communication of various organs, as well as the ability to maintain and repair tissue functions. Age-dependent disorders are based on a complex interplay of behavior, genetic predisposition and environmental influences.
The following researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München are also involved in the project: Prof. Dr. Johannes Beckers, Dr. Christian Gieger, Prof. Dr. Heiko Lickert, Dr. Jovica Ninkovic, Prof. Dr. Annette Peters, Dr. Maria Rohm, Prof. Dr. Robert Schneider, Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp, Dr. Siegfried Ussar and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wurst.