El Centro de Gerociencia, Salud Mental y Metabolismo, GERO, es el primer centro en Latinoamérica dedicado al estudio del envejecimiento. Está financiado por el Programa para Centros de Investigación en Áreas Prioritarias, FONDAP, de la Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo de Chile, ANID.
Aging is the consequence of accumulating a great variety of cellular and molecular damages over time, which results in a gradual decrease of mental and physical abilities, an increase in the risk for diseases and finally death.
The increase in life expectancy is the first risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases to appear. These diseases, which currently have no cure, represent a scientific, economic, social and a public health challenge.
Six pillars have been identified, which allow to categorize the molecular damages related to aging. They contribute to the process and determine the phenotype of aging.
As a center we believe that it’s necessary to understand aging of our population from a holistic approach that integrates basic science, clinic, psychology and sociology.
Studies performed in our center are aimed at understanding aging of our population and generating interventions that increase the healthy life time of Chilean people.
Our research is divided into three programs:
Study the factors associated with aging in a cohort of Chilean patients suffering from cognitive diseases and motor disorders.
Research the cellular and molecular mechanisms associated with aging that have an influence on developing neurodegenerative conditions of clinical models.
Develop intervention strategies to increase lifetime years and health in preclinical models of high prevalence neurodegenerative diseases and translate this knowledge to clinic.
Hallmarks of Aging
Aging can be considered as the result of all alterations produced in an organism over time, which lead to functional losses. Studies with living cells and organisms have identified genetic and molecular phenomena associated with physical and mental decline.
Cellular senescence is a phenomenon of cell cycle cessation of cells that have a proliferative capacity, generally associated with DNA damage. This happens due to a high number of previous divisions or toxic agents that harm the DNA, such as chemotherapeutic drugs, UV radiation or some types of diet.
The metabolism is a set of chemical reactions that happen inside cells. A key role in metabolism is played by the mitochondrion, organelle responsible for producing energy. Aging affects the energy metabolism causing a mitochondrial dysfunction that disrupts some metabolic processes.