Professor Lynne Cox Contributes to House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee Ageing Report

  • Professor Lynne Cox working in her lab
1 February, 2021

Oriel Fellow and Tutor in Biochemistry Professor Lynne Cox supplied written and oral evidence that contributed to a report into healthy ageing published in January this year.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Inequalities in healthy life expectancy are stark, and this has been particularly highlighted by COVID-19, with older people especially at risk;
  • New scientific research into the biology of ageing has the potential to improve health in later life, benefiting the individual, the NHS and society as a whole;
  • The UK is a global leader in drug development and new technologies and so is well-placed to develop therapeutics based on ageing research;
  • The UK government needs to act now to improve the health of older people by investing in basic and translational research to improve treatments.

Professor Cox was asked to attend the select committee in person as an expert witness, based on her research expertise in ageing and cell senescence, and following on from her submission of written evidence to the committee. The Committee’s report quotes Professor Cox that one of the challenges of pioneering new treatments for older people is that: “age-related diseases are currently treated individually, without intervening in their “fundamental pathology” (such as biological processes of ageing).” She further emphasised that understanding the biology underpinning ageing and age-related diseases could lead to ‘“new therapeutic options by treating the shared core process not symptoms”, which could help slow, reverse or reduce biological ageing and, as a result, decrease the risk of multiple age-related diseases at once.’ (Ageing: Science, Technology and Healthy Living, House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, 15th January 2021, p.39). Using treatments that address basic biological processes of ageing could also help to protect older people from the ravages of COVID, as she and colleagues point out in a commentary in the Lancet Healthy Longevity (The Lancet HL 1(2) E55-57 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-7568(20)30011-8).

Following the release of the Lords select committee report, Professor Cox adds that “as the Government has a statutory duty to reply to the report, the geroscience community is hopeful that key recommendations will be adopted, as they provide cost-effective ways to improve the health of older people and address the government’s stated aim of increasing healthy life expectancy by 5 years by 2035.”

The full report can be read here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld5801/ldselect/ldsctech/183/183.pdf