On November 9, 2017, researchers from around the world met for a B·Debate session to debate the role of bioengineering in active ageing. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the number of people over 60 will double between 2000 and 2050. In addition, that, by 2050, one in five people on the planet will be over 60 years old.
Seniors have more illnesses than the rest of the population. And, furthermore, they often have chronic diseases that can be very incapacitating. In this context, bioengineering can offer many solutions in various areas, like mobile apps, care robots, new diagnostic tools and regenerative medicine solutions.
However, many questions remain unanswered and experts tried to do so in this latest edition of B·Debate, Bioengineering for Healthy Ageing. Adding Life to Years, an initiative of Biocat and the “la Caixa” Foundation to promote scientific debate, organized jointly with the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC).
- The ageing population is a proven trend, which will mean that, by 2060, one in three Europeans will be over 60. Among other implications, the total spending on long-term care will double.
Among the new approaches that are being used to tackle this challenge, healthy ageing stands out. This aims to allow citizens to live independently and self-sufficiently for many years, preferably in their own surroundings.
- Another increasingly important concept is high-definition medicine, which focuses on health, patients and prevention instead of disease.
Bioengineering has many solutions to offer in a variety of areas, like biosensors and devices, mobiles, care robots, new diagnostic tools and cardiac and organ regenerative medicine, among other areas.
There are many challenges to tackle, like ethics, getting various stakeholders involved and open science. And barriers, like privacy, trust, functionality and value added, cost, and suitability and ease of daily use.
The values underlying responsible research and innovation could be a good guide for the self-reflection process to make research and innovation in health more open and transparent.