PHOENIX – Federal research funds that could prevent or lead to Alzheimer's disease have reached $ 1.9 billion a year, but are still lagging behind in research money for cancer and HIV / AIDS.
The funds from the National Institutes of Health, the federal research agency funding grant proposals, tripled from 2015 to 2018. By comparison, cancer research funding reached $ 6.6 billion.
Alzheimer's disease is the least-funded chronic illness in the US, according to James Fitzpatrick, director of programs and advocacy at the Alzheimer's Desert Southwest.
"Cancers, HIV and other diseases that are in the first place in our country are still taking more than we are and are not enough," said Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick said that until the baby's first buyer turned 65 in 2011, Alzheimer's disease had not reached the levels of diagnosis now reaching this generation. Consciousness began to rise after former President Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1994.
"It really did not hit society until Reagan came out with the disease and since then there has been a tendency to fund research, but not as tall as it has been for the last four years," he said.
For Alzheimer to receive more federal funding, said Fitzpatrick, he has to come out of the research budget for other diseases, which presents a dilemma.
Investigating the path to a cure
Edward Ofori, a professor at the State University of Arizona, said more chapters would increase the chances of finding a cure for a disease that is not yet surviving.
"Incidents or rates of many of these other diseases are decreasing – whether it's heart disease, there are other diseases that are declining." However, neurodegenerative diseases are increasing, "said Ofori, college of ASU's Health Solutions.
As boomers continue to age, the social and economic impact of Alzheimer's on multiple generations will increase. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2030, all baby boomers will be over 65 years of age.
Paul Coleman, a professor at ASU-Banner's Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Control, said the fight for subsidies is highly competitive.
The NIH only finances a percentage of 5 to 7 percent of grant proposals, he said, calling the "hurdle to progress".
Expanding research approaches
Coleman says that Alzheimer's research over the past few years has focused on plaques and balls, which are proteins that build in and between neurons in the brain in areas that affect memory.
But this research does not reveal enough information about what causes Alzheimer's, which evolves for years before symptoms such as memory loss and the inability to create new memories appear.
"I am of the opinion that the dedication of many people looking at plaques and tangles has hindered real progress in understanding what is happening with Alzheimer's disease," Coleman said. "Now, NIH and other branding companies have reached a point where they say they either do not want to fund research into plaques and mess up at all."
He hopes that the next frontiers of the survey will look epigenetically. Coleman says many studies show that in an Alzheimer's brain, the expression of at least 1,000 genes is changing.
"It is epigenetic that plays an important role in determining which genes are activated and which genes are deactivated and that epigenome can control the expression of a large number of genes, which is what happens with Alzheimer's disease," said Coleman.
Eric Reiman, executive director of the Alzheimer's Banner Institute, said he would want funding to reach $ 3 billion a year. This research should follow parallel paths of traditional research and unexplored areas.
"We have the opportunity to take the most traditional findings, test them in more powerful ways and find that one or the other is on the right track, or we have to follow other mechanisms," he said. "At the same time, we need to think of new mechanisms and risk factors, new targets to which we should target therapies."
Rayman says Arizona has an advantage because it is an important research center for Alzheimer's, including the ASU Center, the Alzheimer's Banner Institute, the University of Arizona, and the Genomics Translation Institute, known as TGen. A TGen researcher is conducting MindCrowd, an online research program to identify patterns in healthy aging – and ultimately prevent dementia.