Biomarker signatures of progressing multimorbidity: in pursuit of personalized approaches to clinically complex older individuals

PI: Davide Liborio Vetrano

Assistant Professor in Medicine

Most older adults live with two or more long-term diseases, a condition known as multimorbidity. Multimorbidity decreases people’s quality of life, increases their risk of disability and hospital admissions, and shortens life expectancy. There is little knowledge on the biological underpinnings of multimorbidity, which prevents clinicians from addressing the specific causes underlying the excessive accumulation of diseases.

The aim of the project is to make a major contribution to the prevention, treatment and care of people affected by multimorbidity and its complications, by identifying reliable biomarkers that may improve and facilitate clinical decision-making and prognosis.

Blood biomarkers represent accessible and economic sources of information that help understand the biological mechanisms underlying disease susceptibility and prognosis. In the same way, troponin and PSA complement myocardial infarction and prostate cancer diagnosis and risk stratification, the researchers will identify a set of biomarkers useful for the characterization and prognostication of people with multimorbidity. To that end, they will take advantage of a well-characterized cohort of 3363 older adults living in central Stockholm followed up since 2001 (the SNAC-K study).

The findings will have important implications for older patients, clinicians and scientists. Using multimorbidity biomarkers in routine clinical practice will enable establishing earlier preventive and therapeutic treatments and personalized care programs. Clinical decision-making and patient and family counselling will be facilitated by more accurate prognoses. Moreover, novel insights will be provided into the biological mechanisms underlying multimorbidity and related health outcomes, paving the way to the discovery of new treatments able to slow down the aging process.

This project will be pursued by a multidisciplinary team with expertise in geriatrics, gerontology, neurology, epidemiology, biotechnology, bioinformatics and public health. Several applicants’ research lines will be converging in this project, allowing us to explore our research hypotheses with high competence and expertise.

Researchers involved in the project

Giulia Grande, Amaia Calderon-Larrañaga, Claudia Fredolini (SciLifeLab, KTH), Riccardo Calvani and Anna Picca (Catholic University of Rome, Italy)