Advanced Study Institutes
Alzheimer's and Dementia in a Global Context
This seminar focuses on the mechanisms and promising treatment of Alzheimer's and dementia between local and international researchers in the field to communicate recent advances and scientific findings, and to create new avenues for scientific exchange.
The flight against Alzheimer's disease is at an international crossroads. It is a health problem of enormous proportions that threatens the population of the entire world. The demographics are clear: the countries with the most established economies tend to have a rapidly aging population, and since the risk of Alzheimer's increases rapidly with age each of these countries will see a rapid rise int eh prevalence of the disease by mid-century. The risk to Europe and North America has long been recognized, but both Mainland China, HK and many of the other countries of Asia are at similar risk. In HK, the discussion, the discussion of the problems faced has recently been front page news. The problem facing China is in some senses familiar and in others quite unique. With the decade long implementation of the one-child policy, the ratio of caregivers to elderly in need will soon begin to drop dramatically. The impact of this demographic shift will be amplified as one quarter of the world's population is involved. This ASI is designed to initiate a conversation. The problems are worldwide, yet currently the bulk of the Alzheimer's research -both clinical and basic - is being done in Western countries. This means that the approaches and the proposed solutions have a distinctly Western 'accent'. The time has come tore-examine both our policy and our biology to position our future research on more solid international footing. The understanding of our aging process and the conceptualization of Alzheimer's itself is not the same in China and in the West. There are also cultural differences in the willingness to donate CSF and even blood. Education in the East that would highlight the value of research is surely one approach, but his will take time. It is vital that Western countries also re-examine their approach to biomarkers and strive to expand the repertoire to include sensitive and specific measurements that can be rapidly adopted in Asia.