The development of a new class of drugs, called geroprotectors, could also delay the start of many age-related diseases, Ilaria Bellantuono, Professor of Musculoskeletal Ageing at the University of Sheffield, said.
She presented her work in Brussels as part of her role as the chair of the COST Action MouseAGE network, which met with European Parliament to urge all stakeholders to work together to ensure the research and testing is fast tracked.
She said: “The occurrence of multiple diseases at the same time is one of the major health issues in older age.
“Geroprotectors have the potential to delay the start of many age-related diseases at once and boost resilience in frail older people, reducing their need to take multiple drugs.
“With people older than 60 expected to comprise 22 per cent of the global population by 2050, such drugs could be crucial in easing pressure on the health and social care systems.”
Until now regulatory barriers and lack of research investments to support testing have prevented these drugs from reaching the clinic.
The MouseAGE project represents 200 researchers from 25 EU counties, with expertise in ageing, age-related diseases, and geriatrics and drug development.
Linda McAvan, MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, said: “It’s great to see one of our local universities leading the way in Europe on ground breaking research into healthy ageing.
“This research into combating frailty could have a huge impact, enabling us all to live independently for longer, have better physical and mental health and in turn reduce costs for the NHS and social care services.
“It is one of many EU funded projects at local universities, but what worries me is what happens after Brexit.
“I hope the government will commit to continued UK participation in such EU wide projects so that we do not lose on the potential benefits such work offers for the British people.”