Wed, May 16, 2012 - Page 7 News List

US adopts revolutionary strategy against Alzheimer’s

AP, Washington

US President Barack Obama’s administration adopted a landmark strategy to fight Alzheimer’s yesterday, setting the clock ticking toward a deadline of 2025 to finally find effective ways to treat, or stall, the mind-destroying disease.

Starting yesterday, embattled families and caregivers can check a one-stop Web site for information about dementia and where to get help. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is greenlighting some new studies of possible therapies, including a form of insulin that is squirted into the nose.

The world’s top Alzheimer’s scientists gathered this week to decide what other research should take place next in order to meet that ambitious 2025 deadline.

The US’ first National Alzheimer’s Plan comes at what many scientists think is a pivotal moment. Alzheimer’s is poised to become a defining disease of the rapidly aging population.

“There’s a sense of optimism” thanks to some new discoveries, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins told scientists at the Alzheimer’s Research Summit on Monday.

Collins said the NIH would grant US$8 million yesterday to study an insulin nasal spray that could help Alzheimer’s.

Also, the NIH was contributing US$16 million to an international study of whether a treatment targeting amyloid, Alzheimer’s hallmark brain plaque, could prevent the disease.

However, “we need to figure out exactly where is the best window of opportunity” to battle back Alzheimer’s, Collins added.

Already, 5.4 million US citizens have Alzheimer’s or related dementias. Barring a breakthrough, those numbers will rise significantly by 2050 to up to 16 million. Already it is the sixth-leading killer and there is no cure.

Beyond the suffering, it is a budget-busting disease for Medicare, Medicaid and families. Caring for people with dementia will cost the US US$200 billion this year alone and US$1 trillion by 2050.

Sufferers lose the ability to do the simplest activities of daily life and can survive that way for a decade or more. Family members provide most of the care, unpaid, and too often their own health crumbles under the stress.

Alzheimer’s Association estimates. Even that staggering figure does not fully reflect the toll. Sufferers lose the ability to do the simplest activities of daily life and can survive that way for a decade or more. Family members provide most of the care, unpaid, and too often their own health crumbles under the stress.

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