News / USA

US Launches Campaign Against Alzheimer's, Including Prevention Drug Trials

US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (file photo)US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (file photo)
x
US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (file photo)
US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (file photo)
Jessica Berman
The U.S. government has announced a major education and research campaign to fight Alzheimer's disease.  As part of that effort, scientists are stepping up their efforts to develop drugs by the middle of the next decade that could prevent the incurable brain-wasting disease.  

Two Alzheimer's disease prevention trials are receiving money from the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, as part of the Obama administration's new national strategy to fight the growing problem of Alzheimer's in the U.S. and around the world.  

An estimated 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's or some form of dementia.  The number is expected to grow exponentially as the U.S. population ages, and reach 7.7 million by 2030.  By then, Alzheimer's and other dementia disorders could be affecting as many as 66 million people worldwide.

The so-called National Alzheimer's Plan calls on scientists to develop treatments to prevent the disease by 2025. NIH has set aside $50 million to help fund the effort.  NIH director Francis Collins says the studies herald a new era in Alzheimer's disease research.

"We have learned more about this disease in the last couple of years than probably ever before," said Collins. "And now the goal is to take that and translate it into interventions."

Collins was speaking at an NIH-sponsored conference of the nation's top Alzheimer's researchers.

Scientists at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Arizona announced they will be conducting human trials early next year of an experimental drug, called crenezumab, that they hope will prevent the disease.

The study will involve members of a large extended family living in remote villages within several hundred kilometers of each other near Medellin, Colombia.  Some of the thousands of relatives carry an extremely a rare genetic mutation that inevitably causes early on-set Alzheimer's.  

Those with the genetic flaw begin showing cognitive declines in their mid-forties and are destined to develop full-blown Alzheimer's by their early 50's.

The Banner Institute's Pierre Tariot is one of the lead investigators. Addressing the ethical questions some critics have raised about testing drugs on healthy people in a poor developing country, Tariot says all of the study participants have been fully informed about the possibility that the drug might not work, or that they might get a placebo that does not contain crenezumab.  

Tariot says they still wanted to participate.

"They have been faced with this devastating illness hitting every generation for hundreds of years," said Tariot. "As one of them put it, 'There are many rivers to cross but at least we are at the first bank.'  And that's kind of the attitude that people have had."

Three hundred individuals have signed up for the trial; one-third will receive crenezumab and the others will be given a placebo. The trial will also include a smaller number of individuals in the United States.

If the therapy works in those with early-onset disease, scientists hope it may also help older individuals.

Cremezumab is a vaccine that targets the brain plaques or amyloid protein deposits that are thought to underlie development of Alzheimer's, according to Banner's Eric Reiman, who will help lead the study.

"Crenezumab is an antibody treatment that is intended to bind with amyloid and remove it from the brain," said Reiman.

Injections of crenezumab or placebo will be administered every two weeks.  

The $100-million Colombia trial is slated to last five years, but researchers predict they could see results within two.  NIH is providing $16 million to support the research; Banner is contributing another $15 million.  The major share of the funding - about $65 million - will come from the drug's American manufacturer, Genentech.

A second Alzheimer's drug trial, also funded by NIH, has shown that a nasal insulin spray used twice daily by people with mild cognitive dysfunction seemed to improve their symptoms, offering hope that Alzheimer's could be treated or even prevented.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid