Alzheimer’s Research on Target
New Alzheimer’s Drug Studies Offer Patients Hope (Update)
by Linda A. Johnson – AP 3 Dec. 2012
The Alzheimer’s Association’s top scientist says if the studies pan out, a medicine to slow or even stop progression of the mind-robbing disease could be ready in three to five years.
As the U.S. population ages, the number of Alzheimer’s patients is expected to jump from 5.4 million now to 16 million by 2050, when care costs could hit $1.1 trillion.
If the new studies succeed, a medicine that slows or even stops progression of the brain-destroying disease might be ready in three to five years, said Dr. William H. Thies, chief medical officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. The group assists patients and caregivers, lobbies formore research and helps fund studies.
After decades of stumbles and dozens of promising experimental drugs failing, scientists think they’re now on the right track. They’re targeting what they believe are the mechanisms to arrest a disease that steadily steals patients’ personality and ability to remember, think, and care for themselves.
A vaccine is in mid-stage testing, and drug makers shy about funding expensive treatment tests could start as many as 30 studies once they’re more confident that their approach is sound, Thies said. Early next year, the first study to try to prevent Alzheimer’s begins — in people a decade away from symptoms but who have a genetic mutation that causes early onset Alzheimer’s. It will include three drugs that each attack the country’s No. 6 killer in a different way.
And in May, the Obama administration unveiled an ambitious national plan to fund new research, better train those caring for Alzheimer’s patients, and help families get needed services via a new website, www.alzheimers.gov.
The number of Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. is expected to jump from the current 5.4 million to 16 million by 2050. Costs for care, mostly borne by taxpayers, could skyrocket from roughly $200 billion this year to $1.1 trillion in 2050. The few treatments available only ease symptoms temporarily.
The big prevention study to start early next year, called DIAN TU, is meant to help find a way to do that by testing drugs on people with a family history and genes that make them likely to develop Alzheimer’s in their 50s, rather than after 65.
Johnson, Linda A. “New Alzheimer’s Drug Studies Offer Patients Hope (Update).” The Associated Press, 3 Dec. 2012. Medical Xpress, medicalxpress.com/news/2012-12-alzheimer-drug-patients.html.
“News Summary: New Alzheimer’s Studies Offer Hope.” Yahoo!, 3 Dec. 2012, www.yahoo.com/news/news-summary-alzheimers-studies-offer-183317980.html.
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