National Institutes of Health

Where’s the NIH million$ designated for Alzheimer’s research?

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I wrote the article below with an exhilaration that threatened to carry me into the air and cradle me on Cloud 9. 

Donning silly glasses and cozying up to a bottle of bubbly.
Donning silly glasses and cozying up to a bottle of bubbly that remains unopened.

Since that time, the children in Washington, D.C. have been battling it out on the playground, most not playing fairly, and all of them holding strong to an agenda that appears to be designed to promote their party, rather than their constituents.

I wondered aloud, “If thousands of national parks are closed, 100’s of thousands of employees are furloughed, and service members’ families are being robbed of benefits, what luck does the Alzheimer’s research money have of remaining designated for that cause?”

So I wrote an e-mail to the National Institutes of Health and asked them this very question.  What follows is the automated response I received:

Due to the absence of either an FY 2014 appropriation or Continuing Resolution for the Department of Health and Human Services, no one is available to respond to your message. If you require immediate attention, please contact NIH Service desk at 301-496-HELP or via web http://itservicedesk.nih.gov/support.

Asked and answered.

September 25, 2013

NIH logo
NIH logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In today’s news, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that grants for research to discover therapies for Alzheimer’s disease have been awarded in the amount of $40 million from the Office of the NIH director, and $5 million from the National Institute on Aging.

In all the reading that I’ve done, I’ve discerned that the magic words when it comes to finding treatment and/or a cure, are “clinical trials.”  The new funding of $45 million will advance the current research being initiated in the form of clinical trials, thereby offering hope to all of us who live long enough to be at risk for acquiring this disease.

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Crenezumab: a drug that might prevent Alzheimer’s.

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Pharmacy Rx symbol
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a NY Times piece, Testing a Drug that may stop Alzheimer’s Before it Starts, it was announced that a drug, Crenezumab, is set to be tested early next year on families who carry the single genetic mutation for Alzheimer’s  – people who are genetically guaranteed to suffer from the disease years from now but who do not yet have any symptoms.  Most of the 300 participants for this study will come from one extended family of 5,000 members in Medellin, Columbia who have been horrifically affected by this disease throughout their extended family.

This Colombian family’s story is presented in an astonishing video within the article’s link above.  For decades, these family members started showing Alzheimer’s symptoms in their mid-40’s and the progression was so rapid that they advanced to full-blown dementia by the age of 51.  The effects on a society, and a family’s dynamics, is eye opening to say the least.  Let’s face it, in this video when a Colombian pre-teen is shown feeding his father, the role reversal is unmistakable.

The Study’s 300 family member participants will be years away from developing symptoms – with some being treated as young as 30 years old – but the hope is that if this drug forestalls memory or cognitive problems, plaque formation, and other brain deterioration, scientists will have discovered that delay or prevention is possible.

This drug trial has a long road ahead of it, but the study will be one of only a very few ever conducted to test prevention treatments for any genetically predestined disease.  In an Alzheimer’s world where very little good news is forthcoming, it’s nice to see even a slight glimmer of hope.