Plan Aims to Treat, Prevent Alzheimer's Effectively

Article excerpt

FROM A RESEARCH SUMMIT SPONSORED BY THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING

BETHESDA, MD. - A new plan marshals the forces of funding, research, and education to fight the battle against Alzheimer's.

The National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease has an ambitious, overarching goal: to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer's by 2025. But while focusing on the future, it does not neglect the present. The plan calls for the resources necessary to ease burdens the disease places on families and caregivers, to improve the quality of care for patients, and to engage the public in a national debate over a condition that threatens to overwhelm national health care systems by 2040.

A unified strategy is the only way to stop a tidal wave that threatens not only America, but the entire world, said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The 2011 National Alzheimer's Project Act called for the creation of such a plan. Drawing on the experiences and opinions of researchers, policy makers, advocacy groups, and families, it began to take shape that year. In February, with a draft version, the Obama administration allocated $156 million to support its goals.

This move allowed the National Institutes of Health to earmark an additional $50 million for Alzheimer's research this fiscal year. The proposed 2013 federal budget includes $100 million for efforts to combat Alzheimer's.

This year's research allocation will fund two groundbreaking studies: the first-ever primary prevention trial in patients at high risk for the disease and a study to determine the effect of inhaled insulin on cognition, function, and biomarkers in people with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer's.

These two trials will consume about half of the additional $50 million in Alzheimer's project funding allocated by Congress for this fiscal year. Next year's additional federal boost of $80 million will support more new studies, according to Dr. Ronald Petersen, chairman of the National Alzheimer's Project Act's Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services.

Dr. Eric Reiman is one of three primary investigators on the 5-year immunotherapy trial. …