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Clinical Trials: Aging
IRB No. 21-174O-2 (Dr. Matthew Costello, PI): Effect of Bladder Interoception on Simulated Driving Performance Under Increasing Cognitive Load
This project will examine how your ability to drive may be affected by the feeling of your bladder, and how this changes in older age. The purpose of this research is to understand how the aging mind and bladder can interact to distract one’s ability to drive a car. In the testing, we will modify and measure your bladder levels while you operate a car simulator. We will also test you in a variety of cognitive and physical tests, and questionnaires that measure thinking ability, physical health, and psychological condition.
IRB No. 21-257-2 (Dr. Breno Diniz, PI): The SenDep Study: Linking Molecular Senescence Changes to Depression and Cognitive Impairment in Late Life
Late-life depression (LLD) is a common mental disorder in the elderly, with prevalence rates ranging from 1 to 5%. Recent evidence suggests that LLD is linked to age-related negative health outcomes, such as cerebrovascular disease, increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, and of premature mortality. The mechanisms of LLD are complex and involve the dysregulation of different biological pathways. Understanding the interplay between the biological changes in aging and depression can provide insight into the mechanisms by which LLD increases the risk of negative health outcomes. This study proposes to evaluate the association of Senescence-Associated Secretory Phenotype (SASP) Index with different clinical phenotypes of aging (i.e., cognitive impairment) and with cellular senescence phenotype (i.e., leukocyte telomere [LT] attrition) in LLD. Finally, we will evaluate the trajectory of changes in SASP, and its relationship with cognitive performance in these individuals. Our hypotheses are that LLD individuals will show a significantly higher SASP index compared to age- and gender-matched never-depressed control subjects. SASP index will be significantly associated with greater cognitive impairment and telomere attrition in LLD subjects. We further hypothesize that an increasing or persistently higher SASP index trajectory will lead to faster cognitive decline among study participants over two years of follow-up. To our knowledge, this will be the first study to examine the association between circulating molecular senescence markers (SASP), a cellular senescence marker (LT attrition), and neurocognitive and clinical characteristics in LLD. Based on the results of this study, we will also be able to identify novel targets for the development of interventions aiming not only the treatment of depression in the elderly but also aiming the prevention of the negative outcomes related to this condition
IRB No. 22-179J-1 (Dr. George Kuchel, PI): A deep longitudinal analysis of next generation influenza vaccines in older adults
This study is a collaboration between The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine (JAX) in Farmington, CT and UConn Health in Farmington, CT. All recruitment, enrollment, clinical data, and sample collection will occur at the UConn Center on Aging (COA), at UConn Health in Farmington, CT under the direction of Dr. George Kuchel, Professor of Medicine and Director of the UConn COA. Coded samples collected at Visits 1-17 will be securely transported to the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine (JAX), located on the UConn Health campus, for processing, storage, sequencing, and analysis. Dr. Duygu Ucar will oversee sample management and sample and data analysis per protocol. In this study, a total of sixty (60) healthy adults aged 65 years and older who have had no history of confirmed COVID-19 and have not received influenza vaccination for the approaching influenza season will be enrolled in the study and vaccinated with influenza vaccines approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for individuals ≥65 years. All participants receive influenza vaccine during the 2022-23, 2023-24, and 2024-25 influenza seasons. Participants will receive Fluzone® Quadrivalent High-Dose vaccine during the 2022-23 and 2024-25 flu seasons and FLUAD® Quadrivalent during the 2023-24 flu season. Blood samples will be collected from the participants at each of the seventeen study visits over three years. Nasal swab and stool samples will also be collected from participants at 7 time-points across the study period. The study is not designed to assess safety or tolerability of the influenza vaccines administered as part of this proposed study. By performing comprehensive profiling of their blood antibodies and immune cells over time, we will be able to associate specific age-related immune alterations with vaccine responder or non-responder status, thus allowing us to pinpoint biological pathways that can be targeted to enhance vaccine efficacy and that can also help us to progress towards developing a universal influenza vaccine.
IRB No. 22-328-1 (Dr. Lisa Barry, PI): Assessing Geriatric conditions as novel risk factors for dropout among those seeking treatment for Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) in mid-to-late life: The role of incarceration history
This research is being done to identify geriatric conditions in persons seeking SUD treatment after mid-to-late life reentry as a novel means of distinguishing who may be at greater risk of SUD treatment dropout. The results could help us improve SUD services-related outcomes for those reentering the community in mid-to-late life following incarceration.
IRB No. 22-326S-1 (Dr. George Kuchel, PI): PESC3 The Heterogeneity of Vulnerabilities in Aging (HVAC) Cohort: A new resource for early biomarker discovery and validation
This research is being done to help better understand the role of specific biological hallmarks of aging in frailty and late life vulnerability and how they correlate with successful aging, frailty and sarcopenic obesity, a medical condition which is defined as the presence of both sarcopenia (loss of muscle) and obesity. The goals of this pilot project are to provide: (1) junior faculty interested in human subject research involving older adults with experience in the preparation of an IRB protocol, recruitment of human subjects and frailty assessments; (2) provide investigators interested in translational aging research with the opportunity to generate early stage feasibility and preliminary human data that could then be used in future NIH grant applications. This will be accomplished by studying healthy aging in a group of healthy older adults, as well as two different well-defined geriatric clinical phenotypes known to be associated with particular types of vulnerability or frailty. In order to achieve the objectives, we propose the following aims: In Aim 1, Dr. Earp and Dr. Kwon, both assistant professors with training and experience in exercise physiology (Kinesiology), as well as career interests in aging research, will recruit and perform baseline assessments following training by OAIC staff. In Aim 2, studies requiring fresh human peripheral blood cells will be carried out. RC3 will provide technical assistance with regards to carrying out the proposed studies and RC2 will provide assistance with statistical analysis of the results. Dr. Kwon, a kinesiologist who studies how age-related oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction impact cell function, will assess metabolism, mitochondrial-derived reactive oxygen species autophagy and mitophagy in PBMC subpopulations (monocytes, B cells, CD4 and CD8 T cells) from each cohort by flow cytometry; Dr. Fan, an immunologist who studies integrin activation and leukocyte recruitment, will assess changes in neutrophil migration in each cohort using microscopy-based techniques. These studies will address important questions about heterogeneity with regards to the ex vivo function of peripheral blood cells in the four cohorts. In Aim 3, studies employing cryopreserved human peripheral blood cells from the four cohorts will be carried out. Dr. Bartley, an immunologist who studies how aging impacts the function of human T cells, will assess cellular metabolic changes in peripheral blood CD4 and CD8 T cells from each cohort using a Seahorse metabolic analyzer. She will also work with Dr. Li to assess metabolomics in the plasma from each subject. Dr. Xu, a gerontologist who studies senescence, will examine cellular senescence by enumerating p16 and p21 expression in CD3 + T cells previously isolated from PBMCs. The results from this analysis are important for our understanding of how the presence of senescent cells correlates with successful or unsuccessful aging. Finally, Dr. Ucar, a systems immunologist who studies how aging impacts transcriptomics, will use single cell RNAseq (scRNAseq) to further understand differences in PBMC from the four cohorts. The results from this analysis will help us to understand how gene expression correlates with successful aging, frailty and sarcopenic obesity.
IRB No. 23-089-2 (Dr. Cutter Lindbergh, PI): Computerized Cognitive Remediation of Long COVID Symptoms in Older Adults
Evidence is mounting that a significant minority of patients who develop coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), especially older adults, show lingering neuropsychiatric symptoms including cognitive impairment, brain fog, and depression. These neuropsychiatric symptoms -- which are commonly referred to under the umbrella term "Long COVID" -- are debilitating and may last for months or even years after viral infection. There is a severe lack of evidence-based treatments. The purpose of the present study is to help address this public health crisis by determining whether computerized "brain-training" treatment has potential for improving thinking, mood, and other aspects of day-to-day functioning in older adults with Long COVID. There are two main aims of the present study. The first aim is to simply determine the "feasibility" of using brain-training treatment in older adults with Long COVID. This includes examining whether Long COVID patients are willing to engage in the treatment and whether they find the treatment acceptable and credible. The second aim is to gather preliminary data on whether the brain-training treatment appears to improve memory, thinking, mood, and other aspects of daily functioning in older adults with Long COVID.
IRB No. 23-134-2 (Dr. Julie Robison, PI): UConn Pepper Center (OAIC) Recruitment Volunteer Registry
Objective/Goals: The Research Volunteer Registry (RVR) is a mailing list that is used to invite and share opportunities to participate in future research studies and to community educational events the UConn Pepper Center will host.
IRB No. 23-173-1 (Dr. Roshanak Sharafieh, PI): Biomarker Development to Promote Geroscience-Guided Approaches to Chronic Wound Management in Older Adults
This research is being done to help better understand the role that senescent cells play in human wound healing in older adults. The goals of this pilot project are to provide: 1) junior faculty interested in human subjects research involving older adults with experience in the preparation of an IRB protocol, recruitment of human subjects and frailty assessments 2) provide investigators interested in translational aging research with the opportunity to generate early stage feasibility and preliminary human data that could then be used in future NIH grant applications. This will be accomplished using a cohort of older adults who have a lower extremity wound and studying their healing of the wound tissue compared to that of the healthy tissue over time. In order to achieve the objective, we propose the following aims: In Aim 1, Dr. Sharafieh and her research team will recruit individuals who have developed new early-stage lower extremity wounds within 1-3 weeks of presentation. Baseline research assessments will be completed and working with Drs Alam, Santiago, and/or Kerr, a tissue biopsy will be obtained to look for cellular senescence markers. In Aim 2, all individuals recruited during initial wound presentation (Aim 1) will be followed 5-7 weeks later and again 8-12 weeks after the onset of the wound to repeat clinical wound assessment, repeat wound biopsy. The purpose of this is to identify and quantify similarities and differences in wound biopsies throughout their healing process. The results from this follow up will show what markers are associated with senescence in the wounds when compared to individuals with properly healing wounds.