Biomarkers of aging are gaining significant momentum in the field of longevity research.

The organizers of the inaugural Biomarkers of Aging Symposium are optimistic about the field's future, highlighting its promising trajectory.

1/12/20243 min read

The inaugural Biomarkers of Aging Symposium, hosted by The Buck Institute and organized by the Biomarkers of Aging Consortium, took place last month. With over 250 attendees worldwide, the full-day, in-person event aimed to establish a robust foundation for collaborative research and development efforts in longevity. The symposium focused on biomarkers of aging and featured 10 talks, 5 panels led by key leaders, and over 20 scientists presenting their work in poster sessions. Renowned figures in longevity, including Nir Barzilai, Vadim Gladyshev, and Steve Horvath, contributed as speakers and panelists.

The Biomarkers of Aging Symposium revolved around four central themes:

  1. Conceptual frameworks and theories of aging and biomarkers of aging

  2. Assessment and validation of biomarkers of aging

  3. Application of biomarkers of aging for identification and evaluation of longevity interventions

  4. Challenges and opportunities for establishing reliable biomarkers of aging

Interest in biomarkers of aging is burgeoning, and Dr. Poganik underscores a consensus within the field that the present moment is opportune for collective efforts to advance these tools. The goal is to propel biomarkers forward, harnessing their potential to benefit individuals and enhance healthy longevity. This shared understanding reflects a concerted commitment among researchers and practitioners to accelerate progress in the realm of aging biomarkers for the betterment of human healthspan.

The momentum in the field of biomarkers of aging is palpable, and Dr. Poganik emphasizes that the recent symposium surpassed expectations, selling out with a sizable waitlist. The timing for progressing a consensus on reliable biomarkers is crucial, as collaboration and agreement are indispensable for moving forward.

Consensus holds significance for regulatory approval, clinical translation, and coordination across diverse expertise. Poganik underscores the necessity of bringing the broader community together to work towards the common goal of advancing biomarkers of aging to the clinic. The Biomarkers of Aging Consortium employs roadmap workgroups, collaborating with leading experts to establish consensus on key topics, including defining the reliability of biomarkers. This collaborative approach has yielded success for the consortium, leading to publications in prestigious journals like Cell and Nature Medicine.

The Biomarkers of Aging Consortium's workgroups are directly addressing the challenge of defining reliable biomarkers. It has adapted and extended FDA's guidelines for biomarker evaluation (FDA-BEST) to biomarkers of aging, recognizing the unique characteristics of aging biomarkers compared to those for specific diseases. The complexity of this challenge is highlighted by the need for at least two detailed papers involving many expert contributors.

While addressing the hurdles for biomarkers of aging validation is ongoing, the Consortium is optimistic that these roadmap papers will provide a clear path for bringing these tools to the clinic. Besides defining reliable biomarkers, there are other fundamental challenges in the longevity space, such as the definition of aging itself, which sparks lively discussions within the aging biology field.

The Biomarkers of Aging Consortium has taken steps to establish working definitions of aging and key terms in the field, aiming for broad consensus. These definitions, while not final, serve as common ground for the Consortium's work. The challenges in aging research include the diversity of aging theories, and no single theory adequately explains the aging process. The Consortium emphasizes the importance of biomarkers of aging as tools to understand fundamental features of aging, facilitating both clinical applications and basic aging science research.

The Consortium is preparing for the 2024 Biomarkers of Aging Symposium and continuing its roadmap work. Additionally, it has launched Biolearn, an open-source tool for biomarkers of aging, providing harmonized datasets and implementing accessible biomarkers to benchmark and validate across multiple datasets. Biolearn is anticipated to become a key tool in the biomarkers of aging community.

The Biomarkers of Aging Consortium is launching the first Biomarkers of Aging Challenge, designed to incentivize innovation in biomarker development. The challenge will take place in phases over 2024 and 2025. Phase 1, the Chronological Age Prediction Challenge, is scheduled for Q2 2024 with $30k in awards. Phase 2, the Longevity Prediction Challenge based on mortality, will follow in Q3 2024 with $70k in awards. In 2025, the multi-morbidity themed Healthspan Prediction Challenge will take place, offering awards of at least $100k. The challenge aims to encourage the development of biomarkers predicting chronological age, mortality, and multimorbidity.

Phuong B. Le, MD