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From Parkinson's disease to Alzheimer's disease, these challenges that science still has to overcome



There are those who understand the joy and beauty of scientific research, rejoicing the amount of knowledge that progress can make us individually and collectively in a smarter, more conscious world. its complexity, more able to find ways to improve the destiny of humanity and the planet that hosts it. There is no doubt that they came astonished by reading the pages that preceded, astonished by the knowledge that we were able to approach, astonished by the perspectives, oh so exciting, that these knowledge are offered to us.

And there are those who do not share this miracle, those who are cautious in knowledge, and those who are wondering about the reasons that will stimulate the pursuit of this quest for knowledge and appreciation.

"Suspicious," fearing that any new knowledge of the brain will come to the opening of Pandora's box, with its force of evil for mankind, we answer without the slightest hesitation to share their fear. That is why we wanted to emphasize, at the end of this book, an essential ethical requirement that at the same time must be based on and thoroughly explored the brain. To others, those who only accept research costs in terms of potential applications arising from it, we answer that we know what we are looking for, but not what we will find. Great breaks are rarely where they are expected. Here we have to call again the brilliant formula of Edouard Brézin (in every sense of the term!): "We did not try to perfect the candle to invent an electric bulb."

By the end of the nineteenth century, the first institutional funding of research was underway. Since then, periods of bursts after which long phases of oblivion, or even rejection, followed, only succeeded one another. Since the last burial, the decade of 1980-1990, brain and brain research funds have stagnated, which actually means falling … despite this, our research continues to enjoy the reputation for excellence at the international level, but one dream of the results it would achieve to is better supported. Brain researchers want to dream more about the function and nervous system dysfunction and the sensory organs. Although French brain research has benefited from its current sources of funding, it still struggles to keep the seventh or eighth place in the world and third place in the world. behind England and Germany. But do we have to be reconciled with being opposed? Not!

In 1947, Frédéric Joliot-Curie (Nobel Prize in 1935) sent a petition and a manifesto to his author: "This is the real cry of the alarm we throw […], It is no question that France continues to maintain scientific and technical research in its life, even though the country is poor, it is to develop them precisely because the country is poor "because" the country imports the license and the patent is a side colony as well as a country importing industrial goods capital ".

It's like the cry of the alarm we want to run. France's efforts to investigate the brain and its pathologies, though important, remain largely inadequate in terms of roles: the direct and indirect costs of neurological diseases, psychiatric or sensory organs are close to 100 billion. per year in France. They make up more than a third (35%) of all diseases in rich countries and make us lose 23% of healthy living (WHO sources). And because of the increase in life expectancy, the social burden and costs of these illnesses are increasing.

Faced with these challenges, investment is disenchanted. Thus, in the field of neurodegenerative diseases, France finances research projects in the amount of EUR 14.2 million a year – excluding salaries of staff with permanent employment; this figure is EUR 135 million when it is included (Global Anti Disease Action, OECD Research). Our country holds only the seventh place among the JPND countries, although the annual burden of these diseases is 17 to 18 billion euros. As for funding mental health research and psychiatry, it is simply poor: France only spends $ 27.6 million (including the salaries of staff with permanent employment) for mental health research. .

While the cry of the alarm has been suppressed almost a decade ago in the book Priority Brain, it is clear that nothing really changed, as the burden continues to grow. However, funding for brain illness research is not a costly burden but an investment whose return is measured in terms of the employability and quality of life of patients. Even modest progress in terms of neuroscience would have a huge financial impact. Strengthening brain research therefore remains a necessity and necessity. Now it's about preparing for the future, maintaining the value chain of knowledge that links the excellence of research at the core of fundamental knowledge with the training of the best practitioners and the best innovators (in medicine or medicine). other areas such as robotics or education). Relying on the progress of other countries in overcoming national shortcomings would be a financial jam in the mid-term and, worse, luck loss for future patients.

For brain and sensory research to have a real future, it must be structured.

Excerpt from the book Etienne Hirsch and Bernard Poulain, "The Brain in Light," published by Odile Jacob.

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