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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Jan 12;366(1561):113-9. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0287.

Drug discovery and development for ageing: opportunities and challenges.

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Muscle Metabolism DPU, Metabolic Pathways CEDD, GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.


The prevention and treatment of late-life dysfunction are the goals of most geriatricians and should be the primary target for discovery and development of new medicines for elderly people. However, the development of new medicines for elderly people will face a number of challenges that are not seen for other patient populations. The burdens of multiple chronic diseases, low physiological reserve and polypharmacy must result in new clinical trials in frail older people with a high expectation of safety and efficacy. The etiology of functional limitations in elderly people is complex and often ascribed to conditions that escape the traditional definition of disease. While our society urgently needs new treatments that can reduce the burden of physical decline among older persons, guidelines on how these treatments should be developed and tested are currently lacking, in part because a consensus has not yet been achieved regarding the identifiable target diseases. New potential indications included sarcopaenia, anorexia of ageing, frailty, mobility disability and reduced functional capacity secondary to hospitalization. The challenges to conducting clinical trials in the elderly should not offset the great opportunity for the development of new medicines to prevent or reverse age-associated changes in body composition and poor functional capacity in the elderly.

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