A cure for Alzheimer's disease has been put under a deadline!
The US government has set 2025 as the deadline year for finding an efficient method to treat or prevent Alzheimer's disease. The National Alzheimer's Project Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011 required the creation of a plan to combat the disease. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) put together a group of experts to work on the all inclusive and detailed plan.
Alzheimer's is an irreversible and progressive disease that advances slowly and begins years before symptoms become obvious. It causes dementia; affecting the thinking, reasoning and memory functions of the brain. The disease is debilitating and erodes the quality of life. Being a caregiver for a person suffering from Alzheimer is an enormous task that involves a great amount of emotional, physical and financial input.
It is estimated that over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Some estimate that the cost to the US to treat the disease is more than 170 billion a year. Alzheimer's Disease International approximates there are 37 million people with the disease worldwide. The group expects the number to increase to 66 million to 2030 and 115 by 2050.
Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at HHS, told Reuters that, "We know the projected number of patients is expected to rise in the future. We know there are far too many patients who are suffering from this devastating condition and it is affecting them and their caregivers."
Countries such as: Australia, France and South Korea already have comprehensive Alzheimer plans.
Koh added, "We want to demonstrate that as a country we are committed to addressing this issue."
Some experts believe that the deadline is unrealistic and ambitious. Especially when taking into account that there is no forthcoming cure for the disease and that the National Alzheimer Project Act does not provide extra funding for the increased effort needed to meet the deadline goal.
Gandy is an Alzheimer's researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He believes that if the 2025 deadline is not met it will appear as if the scientific community 'failed'. He explained that even with "funding, recruitment and the perfect drug, [a] trial would still take 15 to 20 years." Gandy's hypothetical assessment means that the deadline will not be met.
Gandy believes that the focus should be on prevention. He added that prevention trails for Alzheimer will be larger, more costly and time consuming than any prevention trails ever undertaken.
Other experts believe that with increase investing the deadline can be met.
Investment in research for the treatment of Alzheimer's has not been as high as spending on other diseases such as cancer and heart disease. William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association puts the National Institutes of Health's budget for Alzheimer's research at just over $450 million. He told Reuters that the figure rose to $500 million with the addition of private sector funding.
Thies said that the $6 million dollar spent on cancer and the $4 billion dollars spent on heart disease each year by the National Institutes of Health has contributed to significant advances in the treatment for both conditions. He believes that more money spent on Alzheimer’s research would result in the same outcome.
George Vradenburg, chairman of the advocacy group USAgainstAlzheimer's and a member of the HHS Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research called the 2025 goal a "major step forward." Vrandenburg believes that the deadline will lead to increase funding for Alzheimer disease. He said, "If we set a national goal of stopping this disease by 2025, I think there is no question that this administration will seek additional resources to ensure we are on a path to get that done."
The ever growing and aging population will bring about more cases of Alzheimer's disease. A plan to fight the disease is necessary even if the deadline is not met.
If you have any questions regarding Alzheimer's disease please contact your physician.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.