Central to the work of the ART of Healthy Ageing Network is developing the infrastructure, knowledge and collaborations necessary to develop translational ageing research in the UK, with the ultimate aim of building a platform for translational research into healthy ageing.
To help realise this vision, the ART of Healthy Ageing Network pump-priming scheme offered funding for a series of projects aligned with the overall objectives of the Network and which exemplify interdisciplinary collaboration across institutions and involve early career researchers.
We opened our call for pump-priming funding on 27th September 2022. We received a number of excellent applications and are delighted to have been able to fund four projects. These projects were launched in January 2023 and are funded until Autumn 2023.
For more information about our pump-priming projects, please see below:
Investigating the social and environmental contexts of habitual walking ACTIVities in older adult DYADs: A feasibility study (The ActivDyad study)
Principal Investigator - Dr Ríona McArdle, NIHR Advanced Fellow, Newcastle University
Staying physically active in older age is beneficial for physical capabilities and brain health but most older people do not meet physical activity recommendations. This may be due to clinical factors such as ill health, frailty, mobility issues or memory problems, but could also be due to social or environmental factors. For example, an individual’s partner may encourage them to participate in walking activity by joining them on walks outside, or an individual may not want to walk outside if they don’t feel the local area is safe.
This study aims to explore how feasible and acceptable it is to use digital technology to continuously assess physical activity in older adult couples, and to identify key social and environmental factors which influence physical activity through a range of questionnaires, digital technology (i.e. activity monitors, GPS) and an activity diary kept over one week.
Collaborating Institutions - Newcastle University, University of Calgary, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Plymouth and Norwegian National Centre for Ageing and Health
Proteome dynamics to inform healthy muscle ageing
Principal Investigator - Prof Jatin Burniston, Professor of Muscle Proteomics, Liverpool John Moores University
Most people over the age of 70 experience a progressive decline in the size and strength of their muscles. Often, the losses in strength are more pronounced than the reduction in muscle size. We aim to examine whether a decline in the quality of muscle proteins could explain this difference. Proteins are the workhorses within muscle and each muscle contains thousands of different proteins, collectively known as the proteome. Proteins must be regularly renewed to maintain muscle quality, and new proteins are produced all the time to replace old/damaged proteins.
This study will be the first of its kind and will measure the dynamic renewal of proteins in the muscle of younger and older adults. Our project provides a diverse range of training for early-career researchers and our findings could help develop new treatments for maintaining muscle function in older adults by focusing on improving muscle protein quality.
Collaborating Institutions - Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Hope University, Aintree University Hospital and University of Liverpool
Developing non-invasive methods to measure muscle force, relaxation time and mitochondrial dysfunction in sarcopenia
Principal Investigator - Dr Karen Suetterlin, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Neurophysiology, Newcastle University
Sarcopenia is the accelerated loss of muscle mass and function due to ageing. It leads to falls and reduced quality of life. Sarcopenia is very common affecting up to 10% of people over the age of 50. It can be diagnosed by a simple and inexpensive grip force test. However, this doesn’t tell us about the cause of sarcopenia.
One possible cause for sarcopenia is a problem with the mitochondria. Most of the energy in cells comes from mitochondria which are highly specialised energy powerhouses. Muscles need a lot of energy and so if there are problems with the mitochondria this can lead to sarcopenia. We will measure grip strength plus muscle relaxation time and muscle oxygen levels to see if we can detect problems with the mitochondria.
This project aims to develop a simple, non-invasive test that can be used to reliably diagnose and monitor sarcopenia and mitochondrial dysfunction.
Collaborating Institutions - Newcastle University, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, USA
Developing an implementation framework for stair falls interventions
Principal Investigator - Dr Emma Mulliner, Senior Lecturer in Real Estate, Liverpool John Moores University
Stair falls cause many serious injuries in older adults. Improving home stair safety is vital to support healthy ageing.
The Research to Improve Stair Climbing Safety (RISCS) group at Liverpool John Moores University have been leading efforts to improve stair safety. RISCS have designed ways to reduce stair falls in our state-of-the-art laboratory, but we do not yet know how these can be put into practice in real homes. To be effective, potential interventions must be acceptable and adopted by end users and professional stakeholders.
The aim of the project is to create a multi-stakeholder framework to guide the implementation of stair fall interventions in older people’s homes. The project will engage with a holistic network of stakeholders - including end users (older adults), service providers, housing providers, policy makers and regulatory bodies – to establish their attitudes, priorities and barriers towards the implementation of stair fall interventions in home settings.
Collaborating Institutions - Liverpool John Moores University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Living Well, Sefton, Rise and Going Consultancy and MerseyCare NHS Foundation Trust