Table C1

The Challenges to Life Extension in Developed and Developing Countries

Target Groups

Quality of Life Problems

Major Causes of Death and Disability

Developed Countries: Aging Populations only

Loss of strength and mobility

Loss of mental sharpness / neurological disease

Social isolation


Cardiovascular Disease

Diabetes and its complications

Inflammatory diseases including arthritis


Neurological Disease or Impairment

Developing Countries: All age groups

Environmental, lack of safe water & sanitation

Disease related loss of earnings Poverty

Malnutrition Infectious diseases Parasites

Cardiovascular disease

Governments in the developed world, including the United Kingdom (UK Foresight Consultation Document 1999), have started to develop an awareness of the needs of the increasingly aged populations that they have and will have in the first half of this century. Major disease groups or medical conditions that are the major causes of death or disability in the aging populations of the developed countries of the world have been identified. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO 2000), in 1999 around 30 percent of deaths worldwide were caused by cardiovascular disease and 12 percent by cancer.

The problems of the developing world are quite different, and it might be argued that unless life extension in this environment is addressed by those who have the technology and wealth to do so, then the stability of developed societies worldwide will be affected. The medical problems of developing countries are widespread: many of these could be resolved by improvement in economic factors; however, some problems, such as parasitic infections, have eluded complete medical solutions. Toxoplasma infects 50 percent of the world population and leads to miscarriage, blindness, and mental retardation. The WHO (1998b) states that one child dies in the world every thirty seconds from malaria. There is much scope for improvement in the formulation of drugs, delivery modes, diagnostics, and effective vaccines for these and other diseases.

In addition, it is recognized that increasing levels of pollution with their consequent environmental changes drive aspects of both childhood and adult disease. The epidemiology of the disease patterns are being studied (WHO 2001), and nations are considering their role in reducing environmental emissions (EIA 1998). Nanobiotechnology may have a part to play here in land and water treatments through bioremediation strategies and in novel processes for industrial manufacture.

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