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For the third Humanities conference of the year, Bruno DUBOIS, Professor of Neurology at the Pierre and Marie Curie University was invited by NEOMA Business School to talk about the aging of the population, memory mechanisms and the role of business in financing medical foundations.

"The objective of these conferences is clear: to provide you with the keys to understanding and apprehending the challenges of tomorrow," explains Delphine MANCEAU, Dean of NEOMA Business School, in her introduction to this conference, organised once again through the initiative of Michel-Edouard LECLERC, the School's President.

The distinguished guest speaker was Bruno DUBOIS, Professor of Neurology at Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6) and Director of the Centre des Maladies Cognitives et Comportementales at Salpêtrière Hospital. For the NEOMA BS students, he is speaking more particularly as Director of the Institute for Memory and Alzheimer's Disease (IM2A) at the same hospital. "Today, only the United States, part of Europe, Japan and Australia have a population of over 60-year-olds that exceeds 20%. By 2050, only the African continent will have a lower rate. And it is no coincidence that I refer precisely to this 60-year mark: it is estimated that 5% of those aged 60 and over are affected by Alzheimer's disease today, with this figure reaching 40% for 90 year-olds. As such, a girl born today has a 40% risk of developing the disease during her lifetime. This is therefore a societal issue that should not be ignored, especially when we know the budgetary impact of sickness among the elderly."

The major role of science and research

D3zZ1WNXoAEnsUiAfter giving a detailed explanation of how the brain functions and the reasons for this disease, the professor also shared his concerns about the omnipresence of new technologies, and its impact on people. "Some research has shown quite clearly that younger generations who are particularly exposed to screens have significant differences in the physical development of their brains." A diagnosis that further reinforces the urgent need to combat the disease early on. To this end, Professor DUBOIS recalled the essential role researchers can play in this struggle. A daily battle that has opened up numerous areas for reflection. "Today, thanks to scientific progress, we are able to identify the lesions that cause this disease. On the other hand, despite our various attempts, no drug has been found to have an effect once the disease manifests itself. The goal of researchers and doctors is now to treat people before the symptoms appear. Our belief is that if we cannot treat the disease, we can prevent it." And in this approach, Artificial Intelligence and new technologies have a fundamental role to play. "By cross-referencing MRI or molecular neuroimaging data, biological, genetic or contextual data, the AI will certainly be able to provide, in the medium term, a predictive algorithm that will allow Alzheimer's to be detected before its onset. Our research is only just beginning, but I hope for some fantastic discoveries."

Medical foundations and new generations bearing hope for the future

In the fight against the disease, private companies have a fundamental role to play. However, the funding is not available. "For pharmaceutical companies to address this issue, there needs to be an economic opportunity and this has not been the case up until now, since no treatment has been proved effective." However, things are changing, as Michel-Edouard LECLERC confirms. "I am sure that among you, NEOMA BS students, there are some future patient support or research funding managers. A sector such as consulting, for example, will inevitably have to respond to issues associated with health in general and Alzheimer's disease and the aging of the population in particular. My dream? That private structures, under the impetus of the new generations, devise models that will change our practices, particularly in the field of research," analyses the School's President.

For Professor Bruno DUBOIS, part of the challenge lies in the collective perceptions related to this disease. "Today, one of the major problems that needs tackling concerns the taboo surrounding Alzheimer's and the need to include the younger generations in this change of perception. Today, between the natural aging of the population and the overuse of screens and new technologies in our daily lives, this battle will certainly be theirs or that of their loved ones in the years to come. It is therefore necessary to see them getting involved!" concludes the specialist.