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U.S. Wants to Buttress Alzheimer's Arsenal by 2025
Date:1/17/2012

his happen it will cost some $2 billion a year, Thies said, adding, "It's clear we have to upgrade our effort."

"We are going to have a plan. We don't know what it's going to look like. The [Alzheimer's] Association is committed to get the best plan that is possible. And if the plan isn't good enough we will not keep that a secret," he said.

But some in the forefront in the fight against Alzheimer's disease worry that the plan won't be enough.

"While it is always helpful to call attention to the disease, I worry that efforts like these are mostly window-dressing," said Dr. Sam Gandy, Mount Sinai Professor of Alzheimer's Disease Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

"There are no funds attached, and there are no basic scientists on the panel. I don't see how they can seriously discuss cure without basic science input. I would also say that 2025 is way, way too optimistic," he said.

Greg M. Cole, a neuroscientist at the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, said the panel's goals are certainly worthy -- to be able to diagnose the disease early and provide support for caregivers and their families.

"But many people won't seek early diagnosis without more powerful treatments that do more than provide temporary symptomatic relief," he said. "Who wants someone to confirm a dreaded diagnosis with no expectation that they can beat this disease?"

That reality has to change and treatments must be affordable, Cole said.

"The diagnostic methods that have received the most government support use expensive imaging methods that would cost a fortune to implement on a mass scale. We need cheaper methods to screen an aging population," he said.

But the biggest challenge, Cole said, is the dearth of proven therapies to treat Alzheimer's.

"Most of the current approaches in the pipeline -- like passive immunization with antibodies -- are likely to be very expensive at tens of thousands of dolla
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