Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Into Action at the Alzheimer’s Forum

Spring is finally here and I’m packing for my fifteenth annual trip to Washington, D.C. It’s that time of year again when Alzheimer’s advocates converge on Capitol Hill to deliver our message to Congress.

For the first time in several years, I’ll be making the trip alone. My good friends Kathy and Sarah will be spending one night with me. We’ve never done that before and I can just imagine it will be a blast with not much sleeping going on.

With the way my flights are, my free time is broken up into smaller chunks so I’m not sure how many of the wonderful historic sites I’ll get to visit this time. Our hotel is in the Woodley Park area so we’re quite a distance from the sites other than the Zoo. Of course, an entrance to the metro is just a short distance away so I imagine that will be my direct route to the monuments and museums.

Of course, I’m not there to be a tourist. I’m there to take on the serious business of advocating for Alzheimer’s funding. Research news is really exciting right now.

Alzheimer’s is a global problem and researchers are working worldwide to find a cure. A new study from Australia has shown reversal of Alzheimer’s in animal models. Scientist used focused therapeutic ultrasound to beam noninvasive sound waves into the brain. This therapy worked on 75 percent of the mice, restoring memory, but not damaging surrounding tissue. That sounds totally awesome!

At least it’s awesome for the mice, but folks, it makes you wonder how long it will be before it becomes available for our loved ones. This therapy will eventually be tried on “higher” animal models, such as sheep. Human trials could be underway as soon as 2017. These trials may start small, and perhaps in Australia.

It’s not surprising that this news comes from Australia. In 2004, they were the first country to adopt a national Alzheimer’s plan. We didn’t adopt our plan until eight years later.

Scientists are exploring several avenues now that show good results in mice ranging from a special diet to drugs that restore the immune system to normal so it can rid the brain of beta-amyloid plaque.

Research is costly which brings me back to the reason to go to D.C. Our country is hard hit with Alzheimer’s disease which happens to be the most costly disease in America. Yet, we spend only 1% of the cost of the disease on research. We need to increase the investment in Alzheimer’s research in order to meet our goal of a cure or effective treatment by 2025.

So my bag is packed and I leave early, early in the morning to make my flight. This time tomorrow, I’ll be in D.C. preparing for a whirlwind of preparation for our Hill visits on Wednesday. We will spring into action and shout from the Hill: We want to End Alzheimer’s Now.

Copyright © March 2015 by L.S. Fisher

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