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Clinical Trials & Research

Research Spotlight

Montefiore is the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. This unique partnership brings together expertise across disciplines and yields an extensive portfolio of biomedical research, with an emphasis on translating basic science in the lab to pioneering treatments and therapies. Montefiore physicians are discovering novel solutions that advance the future of healthcare and treatments:

Identifying Genes that Protect Against Frailty

People who are frail are more vulnerable to serious complications from falls or surgery and more susceptible to infection. Understanding why some seniors do not experience a loss of balance or strength and do not suffer from abnormal gait may help doctors prevent and treat such physical decline.

The National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a five-year $3.3 million grant to fund a genetics research project—led by Montefiore Einstein researchers Nir J. Barzilai, MD, and Joe Verghese, MD—to identify genes that protect against frailty in old age.

The research taps into the resources of Einstein's LonGenity Research Study, which builds upon the Longevity Genes Project, an ongoing 15-year study with more than 500 Ashkenazi Jews over the age of 95. LonGenity compares the genetics of the centenarians and their children with those with usual survival. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Barzilai's team has identified several biological markers that may explain their extreme longevity.

The researchers will build on a pilot study funded by the American Federation for Aging Research that linked exceptional longevity to improved physical function and reduced risk of frailty. The team plans to further those initial efforts to identify gene variants that keep frailty at bay, explore biological pathways that may lead to frailty, and develop drugs that mimic the effect of those frailty-preventing genes.

Montefiore attending physician Nir Barzilai, MD, is director of the Institute for Aging Research and the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair in Aging Research at Einstein.

Joe Verghese, MBBS , Director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for the Aging Brain is the Murray D. Gross Memorial Faculty Scholar in Gerontology at Einstein and chief of geriatrics at Einstein and Montefiore.

Exploring the Link Between Chronic Kidney Disease and Muscle Wasting

Kidney dialysis eliminates waste and unwanted water from the blood, but it may also promote inflammation and induce muscle breakdown; increased inflammation after dialysis initiation may promote muscle wasting and decline.
Muscle wasting, a condition often associated with chronic kidney disease, drastically reduces patients’ quality of life and increases their mortality risk.  Complicating matters for many of those who come to us for care is that there is no known treatment for this loss of lean body mass.  But answers may not be too far off.
Montefiore Einstein researcher, Matthew K. Abramowitz, MD, is currently investigating how inflammation affects changes in patients’ skeletal muscle structure and function as they begin kidney dialysis.
Dr. Abramowitz’s study of 100 patients over a five-year period—one of the first research studies to follow patients as they transition into dialysis—will:

  • Examine muscle wasting at biochemical, physiologic, and clinical levels;
  • Define how inflammation relates to changes in skeletal muscle physiology, lean body mass, and physical function in patients who have not yet begun dialysis; and
  • Determine how transitioning to dialysis affects these parameters.

Dr. Abramowitz notes that it is often difficult to predict whether starting dialysis will improve muscle wasting and functional impairment in a particular patient, especially those who are older. However, by focusing on the role of inflammation in this process, his research hopes to identify parameters that will help develop better prognostic tools and, ultimately, new treatment options for geriatric patients.