We’ve been waiting for details and now they are here. The Obama administration plan to end Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2025 was announced May 15, 2012 by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The plan pledges millions of dollars for researchers as well as for those providing care and services for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Sebelius said in the announcement that, "What we know is that a lot more needs to be done and it needs to be done right now, because people with Alzheimer's disease and their loved ones and caregivers need help right now.”
A website that Sebelius calls a one-stop shop for families needing information on Alzheimer’s has been launched at www.alzheimers.gov. The site will help people find information about dementia and learn how and where, in their own communities, they can get the help that they need.
She also said that this summer, “doctors and other health providers can start getting some free training on how to spot the early signs of Alzheimer's and the best ways to care for those patients.”
An outline of the plan:
- The goal is to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. The Obama administration has invested $50 million in new Alzheimer’s disease research funding for this year and has pledged $80 million for research in 2013.
- Quality and efficiency of care is to be improved by better training for caregivers and physicians. The administration plans a $6 million investment over two years for health care provider education and outreach services.
- Families will get increased support. According to the report, “Supporting people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families and caregivers requires giving them the tools that they need, helping to plan for future needs, and ensuring that safety and dignity are maintained.” The announcement states that $10.5 million for 2013 is proposed to support the needs of caregivers.
- Alzheimer’s awareness funding will be increased. The administration is investing $8.2 million over two years, beginning this year, to support public awareness initiatives.
- Progress will be tracked to indicate effectiveness. The administration proposes to “invest $1.3 million in 2013 for data collection improvement and increased understanding of the disease’s impact on people with the disease, their families and the health care system.”
Sebelius said in the announcement that, “These actions are the cornerstones of a historic effort to fight Alzheimer’s disease…This is a national plan — not a federal one — because reducing the burden of Alzheimer’s will require the active engagement of both the public and private sectors.”
Clinical trial focuses on one Columbian family
In the wake of the announcement by the Obama administration that pledges millions of dollars to end Alzheimer’s by the year 2025, a clinical trial that will test a new Alzheimer’s disease prevention drug is focusing on one family in Medellin, Columbia.
Several hundred people in one extended family living in Columbia were born with a genetic flaw that guarantees that they will develop Alzheimer's disease before reaching the age of 50. Members of this family will receive shots of the experimental Alzheimer’s drug Crenezumab. The drug will target what most – but not all – scientists think is the root cause of Alzheimer’s, which is the buildup in the brain of toxic amyloid protein.
Researchers will follow this family to see if the drug works to prevent the buildup of amyloid protein in their brains. If the drug does prevent the buildup of amyloid, and the treated family members don’t develop Alzheimer’s, the drug will be considered a success.
If the people in the family don’t develop the amyloid proteins, but still develop Alzheimer’s, the trial would, in one way, be a failure. However, the “failure” of his clinical trial would then send researchers in other directions, as it will disprove the theory that preventing amyloid protein is the answer to preventing Alzheimer’s.
Researchers feel that important work in the U.S. is being delayed because there are too few volunteers for studies. The National Institutes of Health is encouraging people to look into clinical studies as a way to speed progress in stopping the damage done by this disease. Although the Columbian family is a perfect fit for the research, the researchers would also like to study a U.S. family.
Both of these announcements represent encouraging steps forward in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Much more funding will be needed for these expensive studies, but with Alzheimer’s carrying a $200 billion price tag in the U.S. this year alone, dollars going toward research are well spent even if the information scientists gain to move this critical fight forward is only modest in scale.
Associated Press (2012, May 15) HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius kicks off first National Alzheimer's Plan. CBS News. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57434748-10391704/hhs-secretary-kathleen-sebelius-kicks-off-first-national-alzheimers-plan/?tag=contentMain;contentBody
Sifferlin, A. (2012, May16) U.S. Launches National Alzheimer’s Plan. Time Healthland. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2012/05/16/u-s-launches-national-alzheimers-plan/#ixzz1v2VH2kPu
Andrews, W. (2012, May15) Groundbreaking $100M study aims to stop Alzheimer's before it starts. CBS News. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57435037/groundbreaking-$100m-study-aims-to-stop-alzheimers-before-it-starts/?tag=cbsnewsSectionContent.8
Published On: May 16, 2012