WASHINGTON,DC—For the first time since federal research agencies began conducting research on Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there is a national plan designed to focus those efforts. Last month, President Obama signed into law a bill creating a National Alzheimer’s Project within HHS to “accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, halt, or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s.”
The project will help coordinate the healthcare and treatment of people with Alzheimer’s; ensure the inclusion of ethnic and racial populations that are at high risk for Alzheimer’s in clinical, research, and service efforts; coordinate with international bodies in global AD efforts; and also provide information and coordination of AD research and services across all federal agencies.
The law directs HHS to create an Office of the National Alzheimer’s Project, as well as an Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment. The office will have the authority to evaluate all federal programs concerning AD.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill shortly before winter break. Sen Susan Collins (R-ME), one of the sponsors of the bill, said, “If nothing is done to change the current trajectory of the disease, 13.5 million Americans over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer’s disease by 2050. Moreover, if nothing is done to slow or stop the disease, Alzheimer’s will cost the United States $20 trillion over the next 40 years. Despite these alarming projections, to date there is no national strategy to defeat Alzheimer’s. The National Alzheimer’s Project Act will create a coordinated strategic national plan to focus our efforts and ensure that our resources are maximized and leveraged to find better treatments, a means of prevention, and ultimately a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.”