About our Research

Our research takes a life course approach to understanding ageing and long-term conditions including sarcopenia, frailty and multimorbidity (also known as multiple long-term conditions). It embraces a broad spectrum of research which spans the translational research pipeline from discovery science using epidemiological and lab-based approaches through to intervention studies and trials. The key focus is on translation – using our discovery science to inform advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment with patients and the public at the centre of everything we do.

In this video, Prof Miles Witham discusses the importance of designing and delivering clinical trials for older people.

Our Research Studies

ADMISSION

ADMISSION is a Research Collaborative funded by the MRC and NIHR that brings together scientists, clinicians and patients from five UK universities and hospitals (Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester Metropolitan, University College London and Dundee) to transform understanding of multiple long-term conditions in hospital patients. For more information, please see www.admissioncollab.org.

Acipimox feasibility study

The Acipimox feasibility study is an MRC Confidence in Concept funded experimental medicine trial. It aims to test whether supplementation with Acipimox (a medication used to lower cholesterol levels) improves skeletal muscle NAD levels and mitochondrial function in older people with sarcopenia and to assess candidate outcomes for a future randomised controlled trial.

APPETITE

Innovative plAnt Protein fibre and Physical activity solutions to address poor appEtite
and prevenT undernutrITion in oldEr adults (APPETITE) aims to improve our understanding about plant-based protein and fibre products and their metabolic and clinical effects. The project will create new knowledge about how these products can form part of a whole-diet approach together with physical activity and regular social contacts to overcome undernutrition.

Exercise Benchmarking Project

Our Exercise Benchmarking Project, funded by the British Geriatrics Society, is a service improvement project which aims to build a web-based data capture system to collect data from sites across the UK. Physiotherapists and NHS exercise practitioners delivering exercise to older people with sarcopenia or frailty will contribute anonymised data on exercise programme content, participants and outcomes. Aggregate data will be analysed to examine what features of an exercise programme are associated with the most improvement in function. These findings will be fed back to all sites as an overall report, but also at the level of individual sites, benchmarking their outcomes against other sites. Read more here.

The LACE Trial

The Leucine and ACE inhibitors for sarcopenia (LACE) trial is a multicentre randomised controlled trial funded by the NIHR Efficacy and Mechanisms Evaluation programme. The trial has recruited older people with sarcopenia from 10 UK centres, testing perindopril (a heart medication) and leucine (an amino acid supplement) as ways to improve muscle size and strength over a one year period. The trial is run in partnership with the University of Dundee, University of Aberdeen, Imperial College London, and the Tayside Clinical Trials Unit and will report in 2021. More information at www.lacetrial.org.uk

Lifestyle in Later Life – Older People’s Medicine (LiLL-OPM)

The LiLL-OPM Study aims to understand the feasibility and acceptability of carrying out a research project with older people living at home with frailty and multiple long-term conditions. The study will include a comprehensive assessment, including information about the health and lifestyle of the participants. A ‘mixed methods’ approach, combining interviews and questionnaires, will be used to understand the participants’ experiences of taking part in the research. We will seek to understand the views of both patients and their carers which will provide important insights into how to best reach and involve older adults in future research. This will help to inform the design of future studies.

Muscle Ageing Sarcopenia Study_Lifecourse (MASS_Lifecourse)

Although sarcopenia is more common among older people, and is often seen as an age-related condition, it is also found in younger adults and is known to be influenced by risk factors operating across the life course. Understanding early determinants of losses of muscle mass and function is therefore key to developing new approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sarcopenia.
Working with members of the public and patients we have designed a new study: Muscle Ageing Sarcopenia Study (MASS_Lifecourse) funded by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre. We are currently recruiting adults across a wide age range to take part, in which we characterise health and lifestyle in detail and measure body composition and physical function. We aim to gain insights into muscle health that will define the optimal timing and design of future interventions to prevent and treat sarcopenia. MASS_Lifecourse follows on from the MRC Confidence in Concept funded MASS_Pilot project and links to MASS_PD – a study involving detailed characterisation of skeletal muscle in patients with Parkinsons.

MET-PREVENT

MET-PREVENT is a randomised controlled trial funded by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre. It will test whether metformin (a medication commonly used to treat diabetes) can improve muscle strength and physical function in older people with muscle weakness. The trial will recruit 80 older people with probable sarcopenia but without diabetes and randomise them to receive 4 months of metformin or placebo. A series of mechanistic studies will also be embedded in the trial to better understand how metformin might improve muscle function, giving us new knowledge on the biology of sarcopenia. Read more here.

MIlk Intervention Muscle Ageing (MIlkMAN)

The MIlkMAN study was a pilot intervention, designed to assess the feasibility and acceptability of combining milk consumption, a source of high-quality proteins, minerals and vitamins, with resistance exercise training, as an effective whole food-based intervention to improve muscle health and physical performance in older people. Read more here.

SarcNet

SarcNet is a UK-wide pilot project that has created a registry of older people with sarcopenia who are willing to be recontacted for future studies. In addition, the project has started to build a network of research sites with the equipment and experience to recruit older people for sarcopenia studies. Six UK sites (Gateshead, Solent, Exeter, Leeds, Bradford and Lewisham) took part, recruiting 150 older people. 98% of participants were happy to be contacted for future studies; all participants had their grip strength, walk speed and other measures recorded to make it easier for research teams to match the right study to the right person in future.