ON Helix 2023 – Healthy Ageing Across the LifeSpan

Global life expectancy at birth increased from 66.8 years in 2000 to 73.3 years compared to 2019, and healthy life expectancy at birth increased from 58.3 years to 63.7 years. However, the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on life expectancy and healthy life expectancy and global inequalities remain a challenge. [World Health Statistics 2022, WHO]

Whilst the data confirms that we are living longer, those years are not necessarily spent in good health. The pandemic was a significant cause of an increase in mortality, but as we age the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative, immune disorders and respiratory disease increases. Healthspan can be defined as the period of your life free from disease and the question of what can enable us to lead longer and healthier lives is still being asked. 

Chronic disease, is a growing global issue. Each year, 17 million people die from non-communicable diseases before age 70; 86% of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries [WHO, Sept 2022].

Wellness and healthy ageing are often linked to lifestyle factors such as exercise, mental health and nutrition, but to what extent do prediction, diagnosis and treatment of chronic lead to gains in healthy life expectancy? To this point, perhaps a pertinent question to consider is to what extent does an individuals’ changes in their own nutrition or exercise have in comparison to technological advances enabling us to better monitor and treat chronic disease. Or indeed, is it an interplay between the two?

ON Helix focusses on understanding the developments in technology and tools that are enabling new findings and ultimately helping to translate basic research into clinical application. ON Helix 2023 will look at opportunities for improving the transition from new findings to better patient outcomes across different stages of life and the potential of this to push back chronic disease.

Some themes we will explore:

With a range of screening technologies available from embryonic to whole genome sequencing of cohorts, what is the promise of genomic screening at different stages of life to predict and prevent disease, and what are the ethical debates this raises?

There is so much to discuss in the paediatric medicines space from rare paediatric conditions to diversity and inclusion in clinical trials and better patient engagement. What more can we be doing in this space to serve this population better?

What are the successes of personalised drug discovery in oncology and where do we still need to fill gaps in tackling this complex set of diseases?

AI holds huge potential to accelerate the way that drugs are discovered and developed and is a revolution currently underway. How is AI enabling us to focus more on prediction and prevention rather than treatment?

How can understanding the biology of longevity increase the success from hypothesis to clinical trials and ultimately better management of chronic disease?

What are the ingredients needed to build a powerful biotech ecosystem and what is the role of positioning near to ‘good neighbours’ in this? As we develop new modalities and integrated business models, what are the implications for supply chain?