Is there a role for academia in drug discovery

Published on March 28, 2013   55 min

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This is Adrian Ivinson at The Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center. And I'm going to be discussing whether there's a role for academia in drug discovery.
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But before I start talking about the role for academia in drug discovery, let's quickly review the problems that we're facing, the challenge that collectively we need to address. What I'm showing here is a simple graph showing the part of the US population. We can see on the vertical axis, the numbers in millions. And on the horizontal axis we can see the year. Now, if we follow the blue line, we can see that back in 1940 there were only about 10 million Americans over the age of 65. But over the next 60, 70 years, that number gradually rose. It's a fairly steady increase up until 2010 when they were just under 40 million Americans over the age of 65. But this is the interesting point is that today, 2012, we're actually at the inflection point of this curve. We're seeing a sharp rise in the number of Americans exceeding that age such that over the next 30 years we're going to more than double the number of Americans over the age of 65. And the lower the line shows a similar sort of pattern for those over the age of 85. Now, the reason I'm pointing out this increase in the number of Americans over the age of 65 is that unfortunately we know that 10% of that age group suffer from a neurodegenerative disease. There are diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and quite a long list of other rare neurodegenerative diseases. So if we're looking at an aging population where the number of Americans over the age of 65 is going to double over the next few decades, then we know that the number of Americans suffering from neurodegenerative diseases is also going to double. And that's a very significant challenge for us.