Developments in Alzheimer's Research And Funding Offer Hope
Each year in the U.S. around 500,000 people die from Alzheimer’s Disease, and it’s estimated that around 5.8 million people are currently living with the disease. The stats paint a dire picture of the illness and its destructive impact, but for people who have made Alzheimer’s prevention, research, and treatment a part of their mission, there is hope.
Eric VanVlyman, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter, recently attended the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), which attracted roughly 6000 researchers and specialists. Several new developments in disease prevention and care were announced at the conference.
“One of the things that we learned in July at the research conference is that lifestyle factors, healthy eating, keeping your brain active, exercise and those kind of things are really important,” he says. “What we found is when you do them together they're even far more effective in helping to stave off dementia.”
The Alzheimer’s Association, working with the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA), recently announced a five-year, $47 million grant to the University of California, Berkeley to research the effect of lifestyle changes in preventing dementia.
VanVlyman says researchers are moving closer to identifying biomarkers for cognitive decline and dementia in people using less-invasive methods of detection, like simple blood tests.
“We will know, probably in the next couple of years, how that data is starting to come out and if it's actually a proven treatment for Alzheimer's and not just a great suggestion.”
The executive director says there are good things happening on the state and local front as well, including a new Alzheimer's Disease Research Center that will be established thanks to a collaboration between the Cleveland Clinic and several other health systems in Northeast Ohio. It will be the first such center in the state.
“That's really exciting because that groups zeroes in and focuses together on trying to do whatever they can to use US federal dollars and to share ideas of how they can end the disease. And so it's a big win for us in Ohio to have that.”
And in Dayton, VanVlyman says several neurology practices are leading in the field of Alzheimer's research.
The association says there are roughly 120,000 people in the Miami Valley affected by Alzheimer’s - 30,000 afflicted with the disease and another 90,000 caregivers offering them aid.
It is those numbers that drive the local chapter in their annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. In 2018, five local walks were held in several neighboring counties. The walk in Dayton drew around 3000 participants.
The walk in Dayton this year takes place on October 5, 2019 and interested individuals’s can sign up at the national Alzheimer’s Association website.