WASHINGTON (AP)—On Tuesday, the Obama administration adopted a landmark national strategy to fight Alzheimer’s, setting the clock ticking toward a deadline of 2025 to finally find effective ways to treat, or at least stall, the mind-destroying disease.
But work is beginning right away: Starting Tuesday, embattled families and caregivers can check a new one-stop website for easy-to-understand information about dementia and where to get help. The National Institutes of Health is giving the green light to some major new studies of possible therapies, including a form of insulin that’s squirted into the nose.
And the world’s top Alzheimer’s scientists gathered this week to decide what other research should take place next in order to meet that ambitious 2025 deadline.
“These actions are the cornerstones of an historic effort to fight Alzheimer’s disease,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. She was announcing the steps Tuesday at the meeting of researchers.
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The first National Alzheimer’s Plan comes at what many scientists think is a pivotal moment. Alzheimer’s is poised to become a defining disease of the rapidly aging population. But researchers are pushing for a big change in how potential therapies are tested, by trying them in people who don’t yet have full-blown Alzheimer’s symptoms, when it may be too late to help.
“There’s a sense of optimism” thanks to some new discoveries, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told scientists at the Alzheimer’s Research Summit on Monday.
But, “we need to figure out exactly where is the best window of opportunity” to battle back Alzheimer’s, Collins added. He noted that cardiologists don’t test cholesterol-lowering drugs on people already near death from heart failure.