PHOENIX – Federal research funds that could prevent or lead to Alzheimer's disease have reached $ 1.9 billion a year, but still lag behind research money for cancer and HIV / AIDS.
Funds from the National Institutes of Health, the Federal Research Agency funded proposals for grant funding, tripled from 2015 to 2018. For comparison, cancer research funds reached $ 6.6 billion.
Alzheimer's disease is the least funded by chronic illnesses in the United States, says James Fitzpatrick, program director and advocate in the Desert Southwest chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
"Crabs and HIV and other diseases that are in the first place in our country are still gaining more than we are, and that's not enough," said Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick said that while Alzheimer's disease did not reach 65 years in 2011, Alzheimer's disease did not reach the level of diagnosis that reached that generation. Consciousness has begun to grow after former President Ronald Reagan's diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in 1994.
"It did not really hurt the home for the company as Reagan did not get out of this disease, and since then there was a tendency to finance research, but not a huge inclination like the last four years," he said.
For Alzheimer's to get more federal means, said Fitzpatrick, he has to get out of the budget to explore other diseases, which is a dilemma.
Exploring the way to treatment
Edward Ofori, a professor at Arizona State University, said more resources would increase the chances of finding drugs for a disease that has not survived yet.
"Incidents or rates of many other diseases are declining – whether it is heart disease, there are other lessening diseases, but neurodegenerative diseases are increasing," says Ofori, ASU's College of Health Solutions.
As boomers continue to live, the social and financial impact of Alzheimer's on more generations will increase. According to the US Population Census Office, in 2030, all baby boomers will be older than 65.
Paul Coleman, professor of research at the ASU-Banner neurodegenerative disease research center, said the battle for support was very competitive.
NIH funds only a part – 5 to 7 percent – of the grant proposal, he said, referring to "an obstacle to progress".
Expanding research approaches
Coleman says Alzheimer's research has been focusing on plaques and tangles that are the proteins that are created within and between brain neurons in areas that affect memory.
But this research does not reveal enough information about what causes Alzheimer's disease, which develops years before people begin to show symptoms such as memory loss and inability to form new memories.
"In my opinion, the commitment of many people who observe plaques and traitors has hampered real progress in understanding what is happening with Alzheimer's disease," Coleman said. "Now NIH and other brand agencies have reached a point where they are talking or do not want to fund research on plaques and strings."
He hopes that the next limit of research will investigate epigenetics. Coleman says multiple studies show that at least 1000 genes change the Alzheimer's brain.
"It's an epigenetic that plays an important role in determining which genes are involved and which genes are excluded, and epigenomas can control the expression of a large number of genes, which is what happens in Alzheimer's disease," Coleman said.
Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer Institute, said he would want funds to reach $ 3 billion annually. The research should follow parallel traces of traditional research and unexplored areas.
"We have the opportunity to take on more traditional findings, put them in the test in more powerful ways and discover one way or another that they are on the right track, or we should follow other mechanisms," he said. "At the same time, we have to think about new mechanisms and risk factors, the new goals that need treatment."
Reiman says Arizona has an advantage because it is the main research center for Alzheimer's disease, including the ASU Center, the Banner Alzheimer Institute, the University of Arizona and the Institute of Translation Genomics, known as TGen. TGen researcher is implementing MindCrowd, an online research project that identifies patterns in healthy aging – and eventually prevents dementia.