Aging and the development of age-related diseases are extremely complex phenomena. It is now being increasingly recognized that a purely reductionist approach is inadequate to explain all functional changes associated with aging. In recent years, a multidisciplinary approach known as systems biology has emerged that analyzes the interactions between the components of biological systems in a systemic way. We expect that age research will greatly benefit from such a systems biology perspective.
Therefore, at the end of 2009 and due to the successful acquisition of external funding in the BMBF funding initiative GerontoSys, the Jena Centre for Systems Biology of Ageing (JenAge) was established. The center’s objective was to identify evolutionarily conserved transcriptional and signaling networks activated by mild stress, and to investigate their role in preserving functional integrity in old age.
A multi-species approach was adopted to investigate network modulations due to the influence of environment, pharmacological intervention and lifestyle – in humans (ex vivo and in vivo) as well as in C. elegans, N . furzeri, D. rerio and M. musculus. The obtained experimental data were mathematically analyzed, modeled in an iterative process and validated in model organisms. For the effective use of the large amounts of data, a data management system was established. In addition, a new database of aging factors has been set up, which integrates data from various existing databases and also includes new information obtained within the JenAge project and extracted from the scientific literature.
The interdisciplinary work in the JenAge center has so far resulted in 74 publications, including 25 under FLI-participation. The JenAge center also maintains three public information platforms: the website of the research center, the information center and the aging factor database AgeFactDB.
The research center’s website includes data and facts about the research project JenAge.
The information center provides general information on aging and systems biology for scientists working in these areas.
The aging factor database AgeFactDB aims at data integration in aging research.
Although JenAge funding expired in the end of 2014, further JenAge-related work is done, for example on the experimental validation of hypotheses and also on new computational studies. The roughly 2.500 next generation sequencing data sets are available for further analysis both in the JenAge data management system and after use in JenAge publications also in public databases. In addition, biological samples not yet used in experiment were stored in the JenAge biobank. These materials may be used by consortium partners as well as by other groups for further analyses.
Leibniz Institute on Aging - Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI)