Think It Over: The research road is rough, but we’ll get there

Recently, Dr. Lennart Mucke of the Gladstone Institute, a leading basic scientist in our field and chair of our Chapter Medical and Scientific Council, presented on the current state of Alzheimer research.

He covered some discouraging ground: the latest “hot” prospect Dimebon failed in Phase III clinical trials; and a National Institute of Health report threw cold water on data suggesting exercise, diet and mental stimulation might lower Alzheimer’s risk.

Dr. Mucke acknowledged the Alzheimer research road is hard, and he explained how much more complex the basic science of Alzheimer’s is than many other diseases.

It seems we are often found living in hope while simultaneously asking families to take research news with a significant grain of salt “”¦more research is needed.”

Alzheimer’s is a very difficult issue at the molecular level. There will be dead ends. There will be disappointments. Most of what we know about the disease, we’ve learned in just the past 20 years. Four drugs are approved for Alzheimer’s. There is enough good research out there that we can hold events like the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease. The Association funds New Investigator Grants to attract the best and brightest to our field.

Cancer, heart disease and AIDS receive 10 to 15 times the Federal funding of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s no coincidence that deaths from all of these conditions declined over the last five years while deaths from Alzheimer’s rose. Research investments have paid off in these areas and it can in Alzheimer’s disease.

A lot of this will be up to us – you and me. We can’t simply bow our heads, slink away and buy long term care insurance for our grandchildren. We need to walk, talk, write, call, give. We need to insist that Alzheimer’s become the national priority is deserves to be.

See you at Memory Walk.

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