September marks World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Friday, September 21, 2012, is the day when Alzheimer’s organizations around the world, as well as caregivers and families with people who have the disease, will concentrate their efforts on raising awareness of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning. Families are looking for answers to cope with their own or a loved one’s illness. While most of these people are aware that for now Alzheimer's disease is progressive and irreversible, they continue to hope that something will soon come along to help them or their loved one.
According to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, “Every 71 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer's disease. Today, it is estimated that about five million Americans and 30 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer's disease. In the US, about 360,000 people are newly diagnosed every year. Alzheimer's affects about 10 percent of people ages 65 and up, and the prevalence doubles roughly every 10 years after age 65. Half of the population ages 85 and up may have Alzheimer's...At current rates, experts believe that as many as 16 million Americans will have the disease by the year 2050.”
When we consider the human cost, as well as the financial implications for our world health care systems, the numbers are frightening. The need for researchers to find a way to prevent or cure AD is acute.
Disappointing results from late-stage Alzheimer’s drug trials this fall have left some large pharmaceutical companies with nothing to offer. Eli Lilly and Pfizer had both pinned their hopes on their pipeline drugs that they thought would stop or reverse the damage perceived to be done by Amyloid plaque in the brain. The results of these late-stage studies did not prove to be what they wanted or expected. In fact, the drugs made little or no difference in study participants’ AD.
Now, it’s back to the drawing board for these companies if they want to stay in the race for a cure. Other researchers have been experimenting with alternative approaches, hoping that their clinical tests would provide the results that the world is waiting for. Some of these researchers have produced impressive results in small studies which are now being expanded. The world is watching.
Meanwhile, we all must work toward keeping Alzheimer’s statistics in front of national and world leaders so that adequate funding can be made available for research to move forward. Please mark World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month by doing your part, whatever that may be.
Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. World Alzheimer’s Day. Retrieved from http://www.alzinfo.org/08/alzheimers/world-alzheimers-day
Published On: September 05, 2012