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AFA Educating America Tour highlights funding need for Alzheimer's research

NJBIZ - 11/4/2019

Currently, 180,000 New Jerseyans have Alzheimer's disease. The cure for a disease that affects five million citizens nationwide remains elusive.
Experts in Alzheimer's care and dementia addressed the latest advances in clinical research, as well as advice on how to safeguard home and pertinent legal issues at the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) Educating America Tour: Concepts in Care Educational Conference at Rutgers University in Piscataway on Tuesday.
Peter Davies, director of the Litwin-Zucker Center for Alzheimer's Disease & Memory Disorders, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, said among the biggest barriers when it comes to Alzheimer's disease is that there isn't enough money or enough support for research.
"It's only in the last couple of years that we've seen the [Congressional] budget hit $2 billion for research. The budget for cancer is $ 15 billion the budget for AIDS is $8 million. Alzheimer's has been the poor cousin for a long time," said Davies, a member of the AFA Medical, Scientific and Memory Screening Advisory Board.
Davies said that places like the AFA and the Alzheimer's Association have lobbied relentlessly to get that budget up to $2 billion.
"Now we are beginning to see enough money coming in so we can recruit bright young people into this area."
On the bright side, Davies said that there is a lot of positive activity in the area of drug development for Alzheimer's.
There are currently 2,212 clinical drug trials underway.
Davies, a professor of pathology and neuroscience at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, said that in the future PET scans will be used to diagnose Alzheimer's.
While there are only several FDA-approved drugs currently on the market to treat Alzheimer's, Davies said that the ultimate goal is to prevent the progression of it.
Charles Fuschillo, president and chief executive officer of AFA, said he would like to see funding go to $3 billion by 2020.
He pointed out that many costly late-stage clinical trials have failed.
"While $2 billion seems like a lot, as far as I'm concerned, it's not enough. I believe that it's about time the federal government steps up and declares Alzheimer's a national epidemic and funds the proper money for research and also for caregivers," Fuschillo said.
AFA provides support, services and education to individuals, families and caregivers affected by Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. They also fund research and have a toll-free helpline at (866) 232-8484 as a resource for anyone who has questions.

CREDIT: Anthony Vecchione

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