Is there hope on the horizon for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers?

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies have recently  highlighted the 98 new medicines in the pipeline for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, either in clinical trials or awaiting FDA review.

Researchers, patients, caregivers, advocacy groups and students gathered at the University of South Florida Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute to discuss the newest advances in Alzheimer’s research and to take a look into the future of this debilitating disease.

Currently, there are only five medicines approved for Alzheimer’s. While these medicines temporarily reduce the symptoms for some patients, biopharmaceutical companies are working to develop new medicines to prevent, delay or cure Alzheimer’s.

“The American biomedical enterprise is making progress in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. David Morgan, CEO of the Institute. “The richness of the public-private partnerships between universities, research institutes, biotechnology companies and major biopharmaceutical companies is the envy of the world.”

Research facilities, like the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute are making breakthroughs with this devastating disease. These advances have expedited the understanding of the causes of Alzheimer’s. New imaging technologies, such as positron emission tomography (PET) scans, provide scientists a glimpse into the brain, overcoming the prior inability to access brain tissue. PET scans and other biomarkers are revealing the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s even before symptoms appear.

The Honorable Johnnie Byrd, Jr., founder and board member of the Institute highlights the importance of the research conducted at the Institute and the economic impact of the disease.

“As of 2010, the estimated total cost of caring for Alzheimer’s patients is $172 billion, including Medicare, private insurance, out-of-pocket costs and uncompensated care. Families drain their life savings and lose their homes paying for care,” stated Mr. Byrd.

Today, more than five million Americans are living with dementia, and one in 40 Floridians has dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, has become the seventh leading cause of death in America, and is the only cause of death that is moving up in the rankings. Alzheimer’s is a disease of aging, with typical onset in the late 70s and 80s.

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase as the baby boomers age, and people live longer due to advances in treating infections, heart disease and cancer. It is estimated that 10 million baby boomers will die of this disease without a treatment that slows or prevents Alzheimer’s.

Source: USF Health’s Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute

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About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked in the geriatric healthcare field for over 25 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes" (http://www.AlongComesGrandpa.com). As a Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and enthusiasm to assist corporations in finding solutions to work/life balance challenges and pro-actively educate and empower their employees.
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