David Pincus – TRANSCRIPT
So, the bad news is many of us are going to get either cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. The good news is we’re probably not going to get both.
I’m a biologist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And I’m in a really fortunate position, I get to run my own research lab. It’s a little bit like doing a non-profit start-up company, but far fewer headaches. What we get to do in my lab is we get to explore our big scientific questions, and the main one that we have that we’re really focused on is trying to connect diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease that seem to have very little in common at first glance, but try to understand that at the fundamental level what’s going on in these diseases.
OK, so what’s the problem? By the year 2050, cancer is going to account for as many as 70 million deaths per year, and it’s going to cost the world economy nearly 2 trillion dollars to treat. On the other hand, Alzheimer’s disease and diseases like Alzheimer’s are going to affect more than 115 million people and also cost the world economy over a billion dollars. So by 2050, these two diseases are going to be the cause of death for nearly one out of three people, and one out of every 30 dollars generated in the world is going to go to treating these diseases. So it’s a really big problem, especially as our population ages. Like I said, we tend to think of these two diseases as really being opposite, and we think of this in a disease spectrum. On the one hand, we have cancer, and cancer is, as we all know, when cells grow and grow and grow and grow.