Alzheimer’s is a chronic, progressive, and ultimately fatal dementia that robs people of their ability to remember how to do even simple tasks, or even the names of their children. The burden it puts on families and caregivers is immense, and its cost to society grows each year to staggering amounts. And it has no cure: there are drugs on the market that treat symptoms, but none of them has been shown to add even a single day of life to an Alzheimer’s patient.
Tauopathies are protein misfolding disorders that concern aggregation of tau, a key protein that normally acts as part of the scaffolding within neurons. When it misfolds, it can cause a variety of incurable, debilitating disorders, including
- Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
- Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)
- Corticobasal degeneration
- Pick’s disease
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)
The number of persons expected to survive into their 80’s and 90’s is expected to grow exponentially due to advances in medicine, technology, and improving social and environmental conditions. A very large segment of the U.S. population, the baby boomer generation, is at or near retirement age. Thus, the segment of the U.S. population aged 65 and older by 2030 is projected to double to 71 million persons or 20% of the total population. This will drive the dramatic growth in persons with tauopathy over the next few decades. While the overall prevalence of tauopathy is driven by Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, the combined burden of “rare” tauopathies is close to 35 per 100,000 people – and estimates of CTE run as high as 6% of the entire population.