Fondation Mérieux event
11-13 January 2016, Sienna (Italy)
Prolongation of life expectancy in the 20th century has been one of humanity’s greatest triumphs. This significant increase in longevity however raises the crucial issue of healthy aging. Infectious diseases in the elderly clearly contribute to morbidity in this particularly vulnerable population. Therefore, preventing infectious diseases is necessary for healthy aging. Given the characteristics of the immune response in the elderly, vaccines and immunization strategies tailored for this particular population are needed and should be developed.
These issues were reviewed and discussed during two meetings organized by Fondation Mérieux in Siena in September 2009 and April 2012. During these meetings, the bases for immune senescence were reviewed and the possibilities for counteracting this waning of immune responsiveness and restoring immunocompetence in the elderly were discussed. In addition, examples of diseases that should be targeted by vaccination in the senior population were considered.
Thus, inasmuch as aging represents one of the major challenges of the 21st century, vaccines specifically directed to the elderly have become a public health priority, both in developed and in developing countries. Within this context, Fondation Mérieux is organizing this third meeting on «Aging and Immunity» to review the progress made during the last 3 and ½ years. During the meeting, particular attention will be given to discussing the advances made in relation to several issues raised by participants in the 2009 and 2012 workshops and considered to be of high priority for further research efforts.
These issues include:
Assessing the progress in the understanding of the cellular and molecular bases for immune senescence; considering strategies for strengthening immune responsiveness in the elderly during vaccination without triggering potentially adverse side effects and discussing, in particular. The new technologies that make it possible to identify the subtle changes distinguishing immune reaction in the elderly from normal immune responsiveness.
Reviewing the evidence that vaccination in the elderly delays the transition between « young old » to « old old » and thus discuss the age groups within the elderly population that should be particularly targeted by vaccination.
Discussing the needs for reliable and robust biomarkers of vaccine-induced protection in the elderly (correlates of protective immunity) and better diagnostic tools.
Defining strategies that integrate new understanding of the basis of immunosenescence with vaccinology and gerontology, and finding most appropriate ways to translate current scientific knowledge into vaccination strategies, particularly for the poorest countries.