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Task 3

The third task of the National Research Programme 'Healthy Ageing' – to develop, improve and research methods for the treatment of health conditions affecting the duration of a healthy and productive life, patient rehabilitation methods, and long-term monitoring methods, as well as technologies which reduce the social exclusion of the elderly in Lithuania. Three measures have been envisaged with respect to the third task under the Programme:

Measure 1 – to develop new and improve the existing methods for the treatment of diseases affecting the duration of a healthy and productive life on the basis of research into the molecular biology of systems and cells.

In order to develop new, secure and efficient strategies for the treatment of damaged tissues and organs by means of cell therapy and tissue engineering, it is necessary to investigate transitions of transplanted cells, their differentiation, contact with adjacent cells and the angiogenesis.

An especially acute scientific and practical problem is the identification, early detection and treatment of the factors of cardiovascular diseases caused by atherosclerosis, as well as research into the outcomes of periooperational myocardial infarction in elderly patients.

It is important to clarify the impact of adjuvant treatment upon tumoral cells (e.g. changes in the expression of adaptive and cytoprotective proteins, changes in the epigenetic regulation, etc.), the development of the clones of cells resistant to treatment, and an optimal treatment duration and schemes. An important task is to develop technologies for the characterisation of cancerous stem cells, study the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance of such cells, and further develop selective therapy measures.

It is necessary to further study the molecular mechanisms of ageing-related degenerative diseases. Therefore, it is necessary to develop and implement experimental models to study neurodegenerative diseases and customised treatment strategies.

Measure 2 – to develop and improve the measures and technologies intended to strengthen the abilities and ambitions of the elderly to seek good health, safety, fully-fledged participation in public life, and productiveness well into old age.

Further studies are required on the impact of physical activity, obesity, degenerative diseases of joints, osteoporosis, infectious diseases, mouth health and other factors upon healthy ageing. To that end it is necessary to create measures which would, in view of the appearance of new diagnostic and treatment methods, appropriately inform the public about the available possibilities, benefits and shortcomings of long-term palliative care. For the promotion of physical activity it is necessary to develop a set of scientifically grounded activities (assessments of risk factors, education, consultations with professionals, and the support of self-help groups). The newly developed health-strengthening technologies will incorporate a variety of methods and measures (education, legal, financial and organisational measures, inclusion of society), and be based on the empowerment of communities.

It is necessary to develop science-based nutrition models to be followed and used by food producers and consumers. Clear and explicit guidelines are required to protect consumers from misleading information about products.

Therefore, it is necessary to develop and implement experimental models for studying neurodegenerative diseases and customised treatment strategies. New solutions covering social and legal issues, as well as new treatment and rehabilitation methods, are required in the geriatric psychiatry.

New information technology based techniques have to be implemented to reduce the social exclusion of the elderly and improve their quality of life. One of the most perspective technologies is non-contact technologies able to assess the biometric and disability characteristics, as well as management and augmented reality technologies. At the same time it is necessary to develop alternative (simplified, based on biosignals) electronic interfaces for the disabled and the elderly.

Measure 3 – to develop and improve customised treatment, rehabilitation, long-term monitoring and nursing methods for ageing-related diseases.

To develop customised medicine adopted for personal needs by carrying out the search for new prognostic biomarkers. Such biomarkers would be instrumental in assessing the effectiveness of the current (or intended to be applied) therapy. This would prevent the administering of unsuitable medicines or doses and would eventually lead to significant financial savings. Breakthroughs in the area of the modern biotechnology, and primarily in the area of '-omics' of the total technologies create the suitable preconditions to address these tasks.