To live long and with healthy aging is often associated to the absence of metabolic diseases. However the rise in metabolic diseases in Europe has seen a dramatic surge due to improved life expectancy and lifestyle changes. Studies in animal models to link genetic variations to age-related diseases have failed to clarify the exact function of these gene variants to disease development. Moreover, results from animal models have not been transferable to humans.
The EU-funded research project HUMAN attempts to tackle this fundamental issue by generating ‘humanised’ mouse models with livers and pancreatic beta cells originating from human donors using stem cell technology, making it possible to study the gene functions in human-derived organs. The human cells to be used originate either from patients affected by severe metabolic diseases or from individuals that enjoyed a complete lack of disease and exceptional longevity; 105 years or more.
– By studying these two very different groups, we have a fantastic opportunity to gain further insight into the interplay between genetics and physiology of metabolic diseases and longevity. The results gained might provide tools for individuals to better control their own health and ageing through diet and lifestyle, says project coordinator Associate Professor Knut R. Steffensen.
Next week, the consortium of HUMAN will meet in Stockholm, Sweden for their start-up meeting. The project HUMAN (Health and the Understanding of Metabolism, Aging and Nutrition), will receive 105 million SEK from the European Commission of which 35 million is granted to Karolinska Institutet. The consortium comprises 17 partners from Sweden, France, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland and is coordinated by Associate Professor Knut R. Steffensen, Department of Laboratory Medicine of Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.