Understanding the End-of-Life (UTELife)

Classical approaches to the study of ageing compare groups of different chronological ages. These ignore the identification of individuals at risk of impending death, thereby impeding the direct identification of links between increased mortality and gene expression changes. Contrary to these approaches, we focus on the physiological and molecular changes occurring in a pre-death phase of life named “Smurf phase” that we were first to describe (Rera et al. 2011, 2012)

Studying ageing the other way around.

The paradigm shift brought to the ageing field by the 2 phases of ageing model (Tricoire and Rera, 2015) now allows us to identify age-related changes directly linked to the increased risk of death characterizing Smurfs. We are using the Smurf assay as a tool for identifying “ageing genes”.

Being able to predict pending death in evolutionarily distant organisms (Dambroise et al, 2016) raises concerns about the possibility of such predictions in humans. Over the past few years, several studies (Fischer et al, 2014; Pinto et al. 2014) have reported the existence of multiple markers allowing for such predictions. Although mortality-predicting tools might have tremendous positive effects in the medicine field, as we recently reviewed (Rera et al, 2018), it raises important ethical, societal and psychological questions. We are studying these questions in a collaborative project with Marie Gaille (http://www.sphere.univ-paris-diderot.fr/?lang=en).