Systems biology-driven approach to unravel and revert the mechanisms responsible for poor immune responses in the elderly

Coordinated by C. Guzman, Helmholtz Institute for Infectious Disease, Braunschweig

German Federal Ministry for Research and Development, BMBF (2011-2014)

The impact of aging and age-related diseases has dramatically increased in our society. In this context, we are paying a heavy toll to infectious diseases. First, aging individuals are particularly susceptible to infections as a result of both disease and therapeutic interventions. Second, our prophylactic interventions are customized for toddlers, children and young adults. Third, there is a constellation of age-associated detrimental changes in the function of the immune system, loosely termed “immunosenescence”, which results in greater susceptibility to infection and reduced responses to vaccination. However, the exact causes of the functional alterations observed in the immune system of aging individuals are still unclear. The strategic objective of the GERONTOSHIELD project is to draw on a Systems Biology-driven approach to understand the molecular processes affected during immunosenescence to derive strategies to overcome these processes in order to establish immune interventions tailored for the elderly.