Neurodegenerative disease: the medical imperative for the developed world

Published on August 5, 2014   13 min

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Other Talks in the Series: The Genetic Basis of Neurological Disorders

Hello, my name's John Hardy. And together with my colleague, Patrick Lewis, I've been responsible for putting together the series of talks which are in this series. And I just thought it would be worth spending some time to put this series into a kind of historical perspective and explain why it's important, what the history of research in this area has been, and in the final slide, perhaps talk a little bit about where I think the future is for this type of research.
Neurodegenerative diseases are really the major health care problem in the developed world now. And I say the developed world, but in fact, life expectancy is increasing in the developing world to an enormous extent, as well. And so we can see that this is a problem which is going to be all over the world over the next period. The numbers are staggering. Alzheimer's disease affects 1% at the age of 60, 20% at the age of 80. Parkinson's disease affects 1% over the age of 60. The other diseases are rarer, but altogether, probably affect about 1% of the population. And this means that in a population of 50 million, about 1.5 million will be directly affected-- that means diagnosed-- with one of these diseases. Of course, when I say 1.5 million directly affected, each one of them will have relatives who are indirectly affected. There will be caregivers and spouses and children and so on. So indirectly affected will be a far larger number. And of course, as the population ages-- all of these diseases are age-related diseases-- this number will increase.

Neurodegenerative disease: the medical imperative for the developed world

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