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Silver Santé Study experts and trial volunteers give evidence at Mindfulness APPG Inquiry into healthy ageing

Press release   •   May 14, 2019 14:11 BST

Silver Santé Study researchers (left to right), Marco Schlosser, Harriet Demnitz-King and Tim Whitfield, of University College London, who attended the Mindfulness APPG meeting on Ageing Well and Older People.

                        EC-funded research project assists Group with fact-finding inquiry

Experts and participants from the EC-funded Silver Santé Study today (Tuesday 14th May) gave evidence at the Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group’s inquiry into ‘Mindfulness, Ageing Well and Older People’.

Dr Antoine Lutz, a director of research at the French Institute for Medical Research (INSERM) in Lyon, France, presented the latest evidence in relation to meditation and its impact on healthy ageing to the Group. He also described the aims and scope of the ongoing EC-funded Silver Santé Study – a €7million research project investigating the impacts of mental training techniques, such as meditation and language-learning, on mental health and well-being in Europe’s ageing population. The 5-year project is led by Dr Gaël Chételat of INSERM in Caen, France.

Dr Lutz, who is the meditation lead for the project, said: “It was a privilege to be able to share the latest evidence on meditation and healthy ageing with the Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group at the House of Commons today.

A pilot study published in 2017 showed potential for improving brain structure and function in later life - which is associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s – in a small group of expert meditators. If these results can be replicated in clinical trials with much larger cohorts it could be hugely beneficial to society in terms of improving mental health in later life.

“However, only a longitudinal clinical study in which participants are assessed before and after the intervention, such as the Silver Santé Study, will demonstrate that it is indeed the meditation intervention that is responsible for a positive impact on the brain.”

The Silver Santé Study, which began in January 2016, is running two clinical trials investigating mental health and well-being in later life, including Alzheimer’s disease and its mechanisms. The Study’s first trial, called SCD-Well, is assessing the effects of short-term meditation and health education interventions on behavioural measures. It includes 147 participants with some level of subjective cognitive decline who were recruited from memory clinics in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, with blood tests and questionnaires used to assess the impact of the interventions on cognition and well-being. The results of this trial, which is led by Dr Natalie Marchant of University College London (UCL), are currently being analysed and are due to be released later this year.

In the second trial, Age-Well, 137 healthy older adults aged 65+ in the Caen region of France have been randomly assigned to one of three groups – meditation, English learning or a control group in which participants have made no changes to their lifestyles. The 18 month interventions are the longest ever for meditation and language learning and the effects are being assessed through both behavioural and biological measures. These include blood sample analyses, questionnaires, cognitive tests, sleep assessment, neuroimaging data and lifestyle factors. Changes are measured between baseline readings and those at 18 and 21 months. A group of senior expert meditators has also been included in the study. The results of the Age-Well trial, led by the project’s Coordinator, Dr Gaël Chételat, are expected in 2020.

Dr Lutz was joined at today’s meeting by Harriet Demnitz-King, a Phd student working on the SCD-Well trial at UCL under the supervision of Dr Natalie Marchant, and Dr Thorsten Barnhofer, of the University of Exeter, who helped develop the Study’s meditation interventions. Also at the meeting were Jennifer Cleary, 61, and Jack Forsey, 75 – who took part in the meditation intervention of the London centre of the SCD Well trial. The two participants spoke about their own positive experiences of learning meditation as part of the trial.

Mrs Cleary said: “A while ago I went to a memory clinic to see if I had early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. I was worried about my memory, especially as my mum got Alzheimer’s

Disease at an early age. Whilst there, I was asked if I would like to take part in research. I enjoyed the intervention a lot more than I expected.

Dr Lutz added: “I am grateful to the Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group for giving the Silver Santé Study the opportunity to take part in their inquiry and we look forward to seeing the Group’s policy recommendations in due course.”

For further information about the Silver Santé Study visit the project website at www.silversantestudy.eu or watch the project’s 3-minute film here:

ENDS/ Contacts & Notes follow

Media contact: Rhonda Smith / Charlotte Reid at Minerva +44 (0)1264-326427 or +44 (0)7887-714957 rhonda@minervacomms.net or charlotte@minervacomms.net

Editor’s notes:

1. The Silver Santé Study is the public name of the Medit-Ageing Project.

2. The call under which the Silver Santé Study/Medit-Ageing Project has been successfully funded is H2020-PHC-22: Promoting mental well-being in the ageing population.

3. The project receives €7million funding and runs for 5 years from Jan 2016 - 2020 http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/h2020-section/societal-challenges

4.The partners in the Silver Santé Study/Medit-Ageing Project are:

Partner organisation name Short name Country Contact
Institut national de la santé
et de la recherche médicale
Inserm France Dr Gaël Chételat Project co-ordinator Dr Antoine Lutz

Dr Hélène Esperou

Dr Géraldine Poisnel

University of Liege
(GIGA-CRC-In Vivo Imaging;
Psychology and Neuroscience
of Cognition Research Unit)
ULG Belgium Dr Fabienne Collette Professor Eric Salmon
University of Geneva (Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences, Campus Biotech) UNIGE Switzerland Dr Olga Klimecki Professor Patrik Vuilleumier
University College London, UCL UK Dr Natalie Marchant
University of Exeter UNEXE UK Dr Thorsten Barnhofer
University of Cologne UKK Germany Professor Frank Jessen
Hospices Civils de Lyon
(Clinical and Research Memory
Centre of Lyon)
HCL France Professor Pierre Krolak-Salmon
Consorci Institut d’Investigacions
biomèdiques August Pi I Sunyer

(Alzheimer’s disease and other
cognitive disorders Unit; Hospital Clinic; Neurodegenerative diseases: Clinical
and experimental research)
IDIBAPS Spain Dr Jose Luis Molinuevo
European Clinical Research
Infrastructures Network
ECRIN EU Amélie Michon
Inserm Transfert SA IT France Delphine Smagghe
Minerva Health & Care
Communications UK Ltd
Minerva UK Rhonda Smith, Director

  • 5.There are nine work packages in the study:
  • Work Package Lead partner Institution & Country
    1 Meditation Dr Antoine Lutz Inserm, France
    2 Lifestyle Dr Julie Gonneaud Inserm, France
    3 Attention Dr Fabienne Collette University of Liege, Belgium
    4 Emotion Dr Olga Klimecki University of Geneva, Switzerland
    5 Cognition & Well-being Dr Natalie Marchant University College London, UK
    6 Biomarkers Dr Gaël Chételat Inserm, France
    7 Coordination & Management Dr Géraldine Poisnel Inserm, France
    8 Communication Rhonda Smith Minerva Communications UK Ltd
    9 Clinical Trial Dr Hélène Esperou Inserm, France

    Notes/End