Innovative treatments for diseases that commonly affect older people

/ 04:09 AM October 25, 2014

The world’s population is aging. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) attributes this “demographic revolution affecting the entire world” to lower fertility, increased child survival and better health.

In the Philippines, the latest Census of Population and Housing conducted in May 2010 revealed there were 6.3 million Filipinos 60 years old and above (senior citizens), accounting for 6.8 percent of the country’s total household population of 92.1 million. This figure is higher than the 6 percent recorded in the 2000 census. Elderly Filipino women (56 percent) outnumbered their male counterparts (44 percent).


The 2010 census also found that there was one Filipino aged 60 years and over for every five Filipino children under 15 years, a ratio that represents an aging index of 20 percent. The aging index is the proportion of persons aged 60 years and over per 100 persons under the age of 15 years. In 2000, the country’s aging index was computed at 16 percent.



With the generation of older people growing at a faster rate than the total population in almost all regions of the world, the UNFPA underscored the importance of implementing the right policies to address the social and economic challenges that population aging poses.

“The world’s population will become bigger, older and, unfortunately, sicker. By 2025 the global population will increase by one billion, with an additional more than 500 million people aged 50 years and older. By that time, chronic diseases will account for 70 percent of the global disease burden,” warned Joseph Jimenez, CEO of research-based Swiss healthcare company Novartis.

“To meet the health demands of an aging population, global healthcare spending is expected to double from US$7.5 trillion in 2013 to US$15.6 trillion in 2025,” Jimenez said.

“Novartis is committed to helping address the healthcare challenges of an aging population,” Jimenez stressed.

By focusing on the patient and following the science, Novartis has established a pipeline that is one of the strongest and most productive in the pharmaceutical industry, with 138 projects in clinical development, many of which are new molecular entities.
During the International BioCamp, Dr. Ronenn Roubenoff, Novartis global head of musculoskeletal translational medicine, presented several innovative treatments being developed by Novartis for diseases and conditions that commonly affect older people.

Innovative treaments

BYM338 is an investigational drug for the treatment of sporadic inclusion body myositis (sIBM), a rare disease yet the most common degenerative disease of muscle in adults older than 65 years. sIBM is characterized by a slowly progressive, asymmetric atrophy (shrinking) and weakness of muscles. It is potentially life-threatening. Patients who have the disease can gradually lose the ability to walk, experience falls and injuries, lose hand function, and have swallowing difficulties. They usually become wheelchair bound within 10 to 15 years of sIBM onset. Death may occur due to injurious falls, infection (aspiration pneumonia), or malnutrition. There are no currently approved or established treatment options for sIBM.


BYM338 prevents muscle loss and weakness caused by sIBM by stimulating muscle growth. In addition to being developed for sIBM, BYM338 is in clinical development for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer cachexia (weight loss and body mass erosion), sarcopenia (muscle loss with aging) and in mechanically ventilated patients.

CGF166 is an investigational gene therapy for the treatment of sensorineural hearing loss. The inner part of the ear contains tiny hair cells, which are actually nerve endings that convert sounds into electric signals. The nerves then carry these signals to the brain. One of the causes of sensorineural hearing loss is damage to these special cells. In preclinical testing, CGF166 has been shown to regenerate hair cells and partially restore auditory function. Clinical testing of CGF166 began this year.

LFG316 is an investigational antibody for the treatment of geographic atrophy, an advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration  and a leading cause of blindness. No therapy currently exists for geographic atrophy. LGF316 is in phase 2 clinical trial.

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TAGS: aging, Census of Population and Housing Census of Population and Housing, Population, Science & Health, UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund
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