World Alzheimer’s Day: Leaders Call for Early Diagnosis + Aggressive Research

September 17, 2009

Alzheimer’s disease carries an annual price tag of $148 billion, not to mention the personal toll that it takes on more than 5.3 million patients and their families.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — More than 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and every 71 seconds someone in America develops the disease. Approximately 50 percent of people aged 85 and older have Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds and there will be nearly a million new cases per year.

“With the country facing unprecedented economic challenges and a rapidly aging baby boomer population, now is the time to address the burgeoning Alzheimer’s crisis that triples healthcare costs for Americans aged 65 and over,” said Harry Johns, Alzheimer’s Association CEO.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive loss of memory and cognitive function. It destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior that are severe enough to affect everyday life. It is the disease that causes approximately 80 percent of all dementia.

Experts believe that early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and early intervention with improved therapies provide the greatest opportunities to modify or halt disease progression. Most current therapies for Alzheimer’s treat the symptoms associated with it and not the disease itself.

“There is a rich, diverse variety of treatment possibilities for Alzheimer’s that scientists are exploring, offering great hope that drugs that may slow or even reverse disease progression could be on the horizon — saving millions of dollars in public health programs,” said Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association Medical Scientific Advisory Council Chair. On World Alzheimer’s Day, we renew our commitment to early diagnosis and aggressive Alzheimer’s research in order to improve the health outcomes for people living with this disease.

Dr. Robert A. Stern, Co-Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical and Research Program at Boston University School of Medicine, and other local clinicians and researchers are currently studying potential new treatments for Alzheimer’s patients that target causes of the disease, such as amyloid plaques in the brain. The buildup of these plaques is thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these investigational drugs use antibodies, or immune system proteins, to dissolve the plaques. “We are now at an exciting new point in the science and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. For the very first time we are getting close to having a treatment that actually alters the course of the disease, thus providing incredible hope for the millions of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s as well as their family members and other caregivers,” Stern said.

“There are too many lives, there is too little time, and there is too much at stake for anything less than an aggressive plan to address the threat of this disease,” Johns said.

Editor’s Note: For more information about Alzheimer’s research and local clinical studies, please call 800-735-4265.

    Anna Osinski


Source: newswire

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