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Must ListenThe April 4, 2016 The Diane Rehm Show featured UsAgainstAlzheimer’s co-founder George Vradenburg and highlighted the rising cost of Alzheimer’s care. According to the overview, “An estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. Caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is estimated to cost the nation as much as $215 billion…Diane Rehm and a panel of guests discuss why Alzheimer’s is one of the most costly diseases for families and the nation.” Listen here.

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An April 5, 2016 New York Times blog post answered the question “how do you die from Alzheimer’s?” According to the blog, “Once patients reach the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, they may stop eating and become weak and susceptible to infections, said Dr. Jason Karlawish, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Unable to swallow or cough, they are at high risk of choking, aspirating food particles or water into the lungs and developing pneumonia, which is often the immediate cause of death, he said…Alzheimer’s disease lasts six to eight years, on average, from the onset of symptoms until death, Ms. Drew said. While people with Alzheimer’s who have other age-related diseases like heart disease or kidney failure may die from complications of those illnesses, which become harder to manage once someone develops Alzheimer’s, patients who are physically healthy when Alzheimer’s is diagnosed can live for up to 15 or even 20 years, Ms. Drew said.”

An April 5, 2016 The Guardian article highlighted the use of crowdfunding to fund Alzheimer’s research. According to the article, “The team of researchers led by Dr David Allsop at Lancaster University’s division of biomedicine and life sciences is running a crowdfunding campaign, Defying Dementia, to carry out the necessary preparatory testing on their drug in the belief they may be looking at a cure for the progressive brain disease. So far they have raised £52,000 towards their target of £165,000. The global financial crisis has blocked access to credit and funding for basic and clinical research, leading some health researchers – particularly in the US – to turn to crowdfunding. American crowdfunding sites such as Experiment display an array of competing projects, from finding the cause of sarcomas in children and dogs (103% of the way to its target) to examining sweetener safety (3%).”

An April 4, 2016 The Los Angeles Times article reported on the possible linkages between obesity, life-span, and Alzheimer’s. According to the article, “In the first nine months of 2015, more Americans of all ages died of obesity-related diseases compared with the same period in 2014, writes Dr. David S. Ludwig, an obesity-prevention specialist at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In one year alone, deaths from stroke ticked up 4%, chronic liver disease deaths jumped 3% and deaths attributed to heart disease and to diabetes rose by 1% each, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths because of Alzheimer's disease, which has been linked to midlife obesity, rose 19% over the year before.”

An April 4, 2016 GW Today article reported that Biogen CEO George A. Scangos discussed advancements in therapies for major diseases at the Robert P. Maxon Lecture, including Alzheimer’s. According to the article, “Over the next 30 years, the biotechnology industry has the potential to develop new drug therapies for millions of people enduring devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, according to George A. Scangos, CEO of Biogen Inc…Biogen will invest approximately $2.5 billion to develop and manufacture a drug therapy called aducanumab that has been shown in a Phase 1 dose-ranging trial to slow the rate of cognitive decline and remove amyloid plaques (toxic proteins) in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The investment will include $1 billion in clinical trials and $1.5 billion to construct a plant with the infrastructure to produce enough aducanumab for the large number of patients with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Scangos said this is “a $2.5 billion bet” for the company, but it is worth the risk.”

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