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Extending Life, Enhancing Life: A National Research Agenda on Aging
ogy will lead to high-resolution gene mapping and to increased understanding of gene expression at the molecular level. These advances have the potential for identifying the location and cloning of genes responsible for various age-related disorders, including familial Alzheimer' s disease. It will then be possible to study how such genes may be controlled to prevent or further delay the adverse effects of age-related disorders.
The elucidation of the biological mechanisms of aging and the clinical and lifestyle interventions derived from these discoveries will improve the quality of advanced age. Moreover, such research findings are eminently achievable.
Priority Research Recommendations
For the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty-first century, planning and implementation of a multiinstitutional basic biomedical research effort in two principal areas should be undertaken.
Abnormal cell proliferation Research in this area involves the study of proliferative homeostasis, a fundamental process responsible for the orderly replacement of cells lost because of either exposure to toxins or endogenous processes (Martin, 1979). Mechanisms underlying pervasive disturbances in proliferative homeostasis that accompany aging in humans and other mammals are pivotal in many diseases that cause senescence. Alterations in cell replacement are vital to regeneration and repair, but they contribute to the genesis of many forms of cancer, atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and disturbed immune function. The committee proposes that this major new national initiative be comparable in emphasis to the number one priority of the NIA—Alzheimer's disease and the neurobiology of aging.
Brain aging Basic research in the neurosciences (including the peripheral and central nervous systems) and the current special research initiatives on Alzheimer's disease should be continued and expanded.
Additional Research Opportunities
The research priorities in basic biomedical science listed above merit primary consideration for implementation, but other promising areas of biogerontological investigation, discussed at length in