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NIA to Fund Research into Basis of Pulmonary Aging

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute on Aging is seeking to support research efforts that will use genomics and a range of other approaches to study aging-related changes that occur on the molecular and cellular levels in the pulmonary system.

In a new funding opportunity, NIA said it plans to fund research project grants to investigators who will dive into these age-associated changes, which impact physiology, pathology, and function.

A better understanding of these fundamental changes could lead to new ways to prevent or treat the pulmonary changes that lead to a progressive decline in function, NIA said.

These alterations are well known, but the genetic, molecular, and cellular causes for them and the mechanisms involved in tissue repair are poorly understood.

Declines in pulmonary function include changes such as loss of elastic recoil in the lungs; changes in inflammatory processes and fibrosis; immune cell function and response changes that lead to and affect the severity of asthma, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia; the increased diameter of alveolar ducts and loss of alveolar surface area; decreased capillary density, and others.

The branching patterns in the complex tubular networks in the lung are controlled by genetically encoded subroutines and operations that control patterning and morphogenesis, and not much is known about the how these patterns are executed during repair and maintenance of aging lungs, NIA said. Likewise, the pathways that affect pulmonary tree branching in response to tissue oxygen needs during aging have not been closely studied.

NIA will fund a range of projects under this program, such as studies of age-related changes in physiology and their effects on the respiratory systems at the molecular, cellular, and tissue level; the mechanisms involved in oxidative stress, antioxidant response, and DNA damage; systems biology approaches to respiratory aging and pulmonary disease; epigenetic mechanisms; gene polymorphisms and age-related patterns of gene expression; biomarkers of tissue and organ development or repair in the aging lung, and a broad array of similar projects.

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