Obama to seek more Alzheimer's research money

February 7, 2012 By LAURAN NEERGAARD , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- The Obama administration wants to spend just over half a billion dollars on Alzheimer's research next year, hoping to battle back against what could become the defining disease of the aging baby-boom generation.

Not all the spending must wait for approval from Congress: Under the plan being announced Tuesday, the National Institutes of Health will devote an extra $50 million to Alzheimer's research this year - opening the possibility that at least one stalled study of a possible therapy might get to start soon.

"The science of Alzheimer's disease has reached a very interesting juncture," with promising new findings to pursue after years of false starts, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told The Associated Press. "We would love to be able to come up with a way of bringing forward an even larger amount of support."

The NIH currently spends $450 million a year on Alzheimer's research. In his to be released next week, President will ask Congress for $80 million in new money for Alzheimer's research next year, Collins said.

The move is part of the administration's development of the first National Alzheimer's Plan, a congressionally-ordered strategy that will combine research toward better dementia treatments with steps to help overwhelmed families to better cope today. In addition to , the administration said it will propose spending $26 million for other goals of the still-to-be-finalized plan, including caregiver support.

"We can't wait to act," Health and Human Services Secretary said in a statement. "Reducing the burden of on patients and their families is an urgent national priority."

Patient advocates long have said the nation's spending on Alzheimer's research is far too little considering the disease's coming toll. At a meeting last month some of the government's Alzheimer's advisers said it could take a research investment of as much as $2 billion a year to make a real impact.

"Our country cannot afford not to make these commitments," Alzheimer's Association President Harry Johns told that meeting.

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's or related dementias, and, barring a medical breakthrough, that number is expected to more than double by 2050. Today, medical and nursing home bills for Alzheimer's total about $180 billion a year, a tab expected to reach $1 trillion.

For comparison, the government spends nearly $3 billion on AIDS research; about 1.1 million Americans are living with the AIDS virus.

Given the nation's fiscal problems, it's not clear what the chances are in for a boost in Alzheimer's funding.

But for this year, Collins said Alzheimer's is such a priority that the NIH will shift some of its budget from other research areas to eke out an extra $50 million right away.

Among his examples: Some cutting-edge gene-mapping will be directed to concentrate on uncovering the genetics of Alzheimer's, including what protects the brains of some people in dementia-prone families. Collins also said he will determine whether the extra money is enough to start some clinical trials that otherwise would have to wait, including one to test whether an intranasal form of insulin might reach and protect the brain cells of people with early symptoms.

Explore further: US wants effective Alzheimer's treatment by 2025

shares

Related Stories

US wants effective Alzheimer's treatment by 2025

January 17, 2012
The government is setting what it calls an ambitious goal for Alzheimer's disease: Development of effective ways to treat and prevent the mind-destroying illness by 2025.

Families urge action as US drafts Alzheimer's plan

September 12, 2011
(AP) -- As her mother's Alzheimer's worsened over eight long years, so did Doreen Alfaro's bills: The walker, then the wheelchair, then the hospital bed, then the diapers - and the caregivers hired for more and more hours ...

Recommended for you

Study shows video games could cut dementia risk in seniors

November 16, 2017
Could playing video games help keep the brain agile as we age?

New player in Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis identified

November 14, 2017
Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have shown that a protein called membralin is critical for keeping Alzheimer's disease pathology in check. The study, published in Nature Communications, ...

Biomarker may predict early Alzheimer's disease

November 10, 2017
Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have identified a peptide that could lead to the early detection of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The discovery, published in Nature Communications, may ...

Smell test challenge suggests clinical benefit for some before development of Alzheimer's

November 10, 2017
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) may have discovered a way to use a patient's sense of smell to treat Alzheimer's disease before it ever develops. ...

How SORLA protects against Alzheimer's disease

November 7, 2017
Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have identified a new protective function for a brain protein genetically linked to Alzheimer's. The findings, published in the Journal of Experimental ...

Saving neurons may offer new approach for treating Alzheimer's disease

November 6, 2017
Treatment with a neuroprotective compound that saves brain cells from dying also prevents the development of depression-like behavior and the later onset of memory and learning problems in a rat model of Alzheimer's disease. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.