Barriers to the Preclinical Development of Therapeutics that Target Aging Mechanisms

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Through the progress of basic science research, fundamental mechanisms that contribute to age-related decline are being described with increasing depth and detail. Although these efforts have identified new drug targets and compounds that extend life span in model organisms, clinical trials of therapeutics that target aging processes remain scarce. Progress in aging research is hindered by barriers associated with the translation of basic science discoveries into the clinic. This report summarizes discussions held at a 2014 Geroscience Network retreat focused on identifying hurdles that currently impede the preclinical development of drugs targeting fundamental aging processes. From these discussions, it was evident that aging researchers have varied perceptions of the ideal preclinical pipeline. To forge a clear and cohesive path forward, several areas of controversy must first be resolved and new tools developed. Here, we focus on five key issues in preclinical drug development (drug discovery, lead compound development, translational preclinical biomarkers, funding, and integration between researchers and clinicians), expanding upon discussions held at the Geroscience Retreat and suggesting areas for further research. By bringing these findings to the attention of the aging research community, we hope to lay the foundation for a concerted preclinical drug development pipeline.

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