Our group has been concerned with the study of ageing for over twenty years. Our major aim now is identifying longevity-related genes, finding ways of upregulating these genes by physiological, nutritional, and pharmacological intervention and determining how to promote healthy ageing.
A major line of work has been to study why women live longer than men and profit from knowledge obtained by the fact that in the same species one gender lives longer than the other. We have come up with the idea that oestrogens act as promoters of longevity-associated genes and this has the practical implication that phytoestrogens (rather than oestrogens, which can have serious side effects) be used which, in many cases, act like oestrogens in the positive way because they bind to oestrogen receptors without the negative effects of promoting cancer or other diseases.
Recently we initiated two lines of work in the laboratory: one is the study of centenarians for which we organised the Spanish Centenarians Study Group. Centenarians are an outstanding group of people whose extreme longevity is complemented by a very high quality of life and indeed a very extreme health span. Much is to be learnt from centenarians and we hope to contribute to this field. The other line of work is stem cells and general regenerative medicine.
In a similar fashion, stem cells have opened up very serious possibilities of “repairing the damage” caused by ageing. Our studies, specially on the role of oxidative stress in stem cell proliferation may help in this endeavour.