Recap: Research in Action at the UsA2 Tokyo Scientific Roundtable

March 20, 2018 - George Vradenburg

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Last week, ResearchersAgainstAlzheimer’s co-hosted the Alzheimer’s Scientific Roundtable at the University of Tokyo in Japan, which brought together some of the best and brightest minds engaged in the global battle against this dreaded disease.

Our hope is that this meeting will spur the Japanese government to make dementia a central theme of its 2019 G20 leadership.  

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Photo Credit: Katsumi Hirabayashi

Let me take a minute to explain why this is important.

Anyone who has dealt with Alzheimer's knows the terrible toll it takes on patients and their families. I watched in horror as my wife’s brilliant, vibrant, extraordinary mother disappeared into the disease in the early 1990s.

What we didn’t know then and what's less well known still is the epic worldwide scale of this disease, which is on track to afflict 132 million people in a little over three decades. That, by the way, is more than Japan's current population. Already, the global cost of dementia is $1 trillion.

When the leaders from the industrialized world gather next year, they will have a unique opportunity to prevent that terrible future from becoming a reality.

We already know that getting world leaders involved on this particular issue makes a huge difference. After the UK's then-Prime Minister David Cameron dedicated his 2013 G8 leadership in part to battling Alzheimer's, we saw significant action, including increased funding, new social movements, and progress towards finding a cure. That’s why UsAgainstAlzheimer’s (UsA2) has made global leadership on Alzheimer’s a priority through our participation on the World Dementia Council and the CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s (CEOi), a UsA2 convened coalition of global CEOs, representing pharmaceutical, biotechnology, healthcare, and financial companies.

Medical science has advanced quite a bit in just the past five years, but we still need a coordinated and sustained global effort to realize our goal of a cure by 2025.

Our hope is that the G20 leaders will use the next summit to create a clear, comprehensive, goal-oriented research effort, one focused on advancing our ability to detect, prevent and treat Alzheimer's.

Along those lines, my recommendation, and the recommendation of other experts at our meeting in Japan, would be for the world's wealthiest countries to call for:

  • The adoption of aging and dementia as a theme of the G20 in 2019;
  • International collaboration on the development of Biomarkers and diagnostics;
  • International linkages between regional clinical trial systems;
  • Increased rates of timely and accurate diagnosis of dementia; and
  • A deepening of efforts in dementia friendly communities

Global experts from the roundtable are working to formalize these recommendations and we will be releasing them together soon.  At the same time, UsA2’s CEOi will be meeting with the World Health Organization to discuss the implementation of their Global Dementia Action Plan.

We already know what can be achieved when nations are single-minded in their pursuit of a health goal. Witness the successful fight against HIV.

Alzheimer's is little short of a plague descending on all of us. And we need to act on it with the urgency it so clearly deserves.  

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