Today's Top Alzheimer's News

Senate boosts NIH budget, the efforts to fund long-term care, and an interview with Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging (read more).  

Must reads

  • A July 9, 2013 Nature article reported that the US Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies voted to boost NIH's budget by nearly $2 billion, to $31 billion in 2014. According to the article, "The proposed budget, part of a broader spending bill , would increase top-line NIH spending from the current level of $29.15 billion to $30.955 billion, just shy of the $31.1 billion that President Barack Obama requested in April. The increase would include $84 million new dollars for Alzheimer’s disease research at NIH’s National Institute on Aging and $40 million for the much-watched Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative announced by the White House in April." Also reported on by The Economist
  • A July 9, 2013 Reuters article reported on efforts to develop a system to properly fund long-term care. According to the article, "The odds of a breakthrough are small, but the clock is ticking on the need for solutions. Long-term care services support the medical and nonmedical needs of people with chronic illnesses. It's hardly restricted to older people, but demand for long-term care services will explode as the baby boom generation ages. Meanwhile, we currently cover care with a patchwork quilt of funding mechanisms that is full of holes."
  • A July 9, 2013 Market Watch interview with Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, highlighted the Institute’s search for a successful Alzheimer's intervention and the impact of the sequester. When asked about sequestration, Dr. Hodes stated, "The cuts have affected Alzheimer’s research as they have all NIH research. The sequestration requires NIH to cut 5%, or $1.55 billion, of its fiscal year 2013 budget. The NIH must apply the cut evenly across all programs, projects and activities. Our estimated research budget for Alzheimer’s this fiscal year is $484 million, down from $503 million last year.  The timing is tragic, because the opportunities have never been greater, and the urgency of needing to prevent or treat the disease is enormous. Many outstanding proposals won’t be funded, and that will slow the pace at which we can translate findings into an intervention."

 Medicare policy

  • A July 9, 2013 Scientific American article reported on Medicare's deliberation over covering brain scans for Alzheimer's research. According to the article, "Current science prevents doctors from making a definitive diagnosis determining if a patient has Alzheimer’s until they can analyze the postmortem brain under a microscope during an autopsy and find telltale signs of the disease…Implementing this amyloid-imaging test as a requirement for inclusion in trials could potentially strengthen testing because it could weed out individuals without the protein buildup. Already, ahead of last week’s decision, clinical trials were in the works that would use amyloid imaging as an entry requirement. So if Medicare foots the bill for the test, it could help to marginally lower the costs for that research, backers of the test say."
  • A July 9, 2013 Reuters article reported that "Alzheimer's experts are set to protest after Medicare issued draft guidelines last week saying it would only pay for an Eli Lilly and Co diagnostic test for the disease if patients were taking part in clinical trials for it." According to the article, "Both Lilly and the Alzheimer's Association have released statements expressing disappointment with the decision by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which cited "insufficient" evidence that the tests improve patient care…Patient advocates and the company say the decision might slow the development of future diagnostic tests for Alzheimer's and deny patients with symptoms the chance to find out whether they have Alzheimer's or some other disease that causes symptoms of dementia."

 Alzheimer's and women

  • A July 9, 2013 UC San Diego Health System press release highlighted Alzheimer's disproportionate impact on women. According to the release, "The rates of regional brain loss and cognitive decline caused by aging and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are higher for women and for people with a key genetic risk factor for AD."

 International 

  • A July 9, 2013 Daily Mail (UK) article reported that British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt claimed "that 'incredible advances' in British medicine are bringing us nearer to a treatment" for Alzheimer's disease. According to Hunt, 'Finding drugs that can halt or cure dementia may seem a distant prospect now but there are drugs companies that think they will have a cure for dementia by 2020."

 

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