CURE ALZHEIMER’S FUND – WHY WE HAVE HOPE
Too often, Alzheimer’s disease is described as a loss of memory—a natural part of the human aging process. Both characterizations are wrong and harmful to those who are, and those who will become, afflicted with what is truly a dreadful disease.
The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are lapses with memory, at first infrequent and inconsistent. But over time, they become more profound.
As the disease progresses, new symptoms present themselves. Anxiety, fear, confusion, anger. Mood swings for no apparent reason. Impaired judgment. Difficulty with familiar—even simple—tasks, such as boiling water. Misplacing possessions.
But the damage wrought by Alzheimer’s goes beyond the inconveniences of mild cognitive impairment. In later stages of the disease, mobility becomes limited. You forget to eat. You lose your ability to speak. Neurological deficits can result in heart attack, stroke, and other more common causes of death. The degradation of the brain manifests in many different ways.
Researchers now believe that the disease begins to develop in the brain 20 years before the first symptoms occur—and that deterioration can continue for 10 to 20 years afterwards. It is a slow, painful—and costly—disease. And it is always fatal.
6.7 Million - Number of people with Alzheimer’s in the U.S.
18 million - The estimated number of people in the U.S. who have Alzheimer’s and are not yet diagnosed
66% - The percentage of people with Alzheimer’s disease who are women
11 Million - The number of unpaid caregivers providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease
16 Billion - The annual number of unpaid hours of care provided to those with Alzheimer’s disease
2x - The rate of affliction for African Americans compared to Caucasians
250,000 - The number of children between the ages of 8—18 who are providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease
$345 Billion - The current annual cost of Alzheimer’s disease to the U.S. government
6th - Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States
0% - The survival rate for Alzheimer’s disease
THE DISEASE PATHOLOGY
To over-simplify, Alzheimer’s disease has 3 primary components: a buildup of amyloid-beta protein referred to as plaque bundles; the changing composition of the neurons in the brain called tau tangles; and Inflammation.
The human brain has a natural cleaning system that goes to work while we sleep; microglia go through the brain and remove unwanted particles and debris, including some proteins. With Alzheimer’s disease there is a buildup, over time, of protein into plaque bundles not removed by the microglia.
The changing chemistry of the tau of some neurons results in what is called a “tangle.” These tangles trap some of the plaque bundles and may also create blockages of normal neurotransmitters—signals in the brain that inform the human experience of memory and other cognitive ability.
Finally, there is inflammation in the brain. When combined with plaques and tangles, it appears as if there is acceleration in cognitive decline, and eventually, other neurological and biological functions.
CURE ALZHEIMER’S FUND RESEARCH
The founders of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund recognized the need to provide research grants to study the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. The grants that are provided to scientists throughout the world help to fund the basic, fundamental research that is the first step in the scientific discovery process.
“The emphasis on basic knowledge is absolutely critical. The tendency is to be driven by urgency which leads you to take any possible avenue, and that is a dangerous approach that leads to short-cuts, guesses, and applying investment dollars with no true underlying understanding. It also moves people away from the long-term research that is necessary.”
David Baltimore, Ph.D., Nobel laureate, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine
We Fund Basic Research for Alzheimer’s Disease.
In order for a researcher to obtain funding for a scientific theory from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the researcher must provide data that demonstrates that the theory is valid. Without data, the NIH is unlikely to fund the work—even for the most seasoned and accomplished scientists.
These researchers need funding for basic research. Basic research is not easy; in fact, it is highly complex. But it is critical to progress.
This is where we provide an important source of funds to the scientific community. Our focus is on providing proof-of-concept funding to researchers with breakthrough ideas—not incremental shifts in our understanding of the disease, but big, bold ideas.
And there is no shortage of big ideas for this very complex disease of the brain.
MOVING CLOSER TO A CURE
Tremendous progress has been made in our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has played an enormous role in the advanced understanding of the disease.
Early in the history of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, a grant was provided to identify genes involved in Alzheimer’s disease. This project resulted in the discovery of 5 new genes, and was recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the Top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2008. With continued investigation, we now understand that there are more than 100 genes that play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Having any one of these genes is not a guarantee that one will get the disease. But, knowing that the genes exist—and identifying the individual role of each—will help scientists to evaluate future potential therapies.
In addition to genetics, there are many other contributing factors being discovered that may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s pathology. These include diet, activity levels, sex-based differences, environmental factors, the protective role of the blood-brain barrier, and the microbiome, to name just a few. Today’s research is focused on understanding all contributing factors so that therapeutic solutions for prevention, slowing, or reversing the disease can be developed. Today’s research is also leading to the critical diagnostic tools needed to evaluate patients who may be exhibiting symptoms of the disease, such as blood tests and P.E.T scans.
OUR WORK CONTINUES
There have been many discoveries. There will be many more. Our researchers believe that because of the accelerated understanding of the disease, we are now at a tipping point. We are all more optimistic than ever before. We know that it is just a matter of time—and funding—before the first therapy will become available.
Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has received a 4-star rating from charity watchdog Charity Navigator for more than 10 consecutive years. We been fortunate that tens of thousands of donors have made contributions of all sizes to support our cause. We are grateful to each and every donor, and will not stop our support of groundbreaking research until we are able to prevent, slow, or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. There are many ways to help:
• INDIVIDUAL DONATIONS: Through our website (www.curealz.org), Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), Check, or call 781-237-3800
• FOUNDATIONS AND ESTATE PLANNING
• ASSET DONATION: Stocks—Cars—Boats – Crypto
• DONOR ADVISED FUNDS
• EMPLOYEE MATCHING PROGRAMS
• PLANNED GIVING AND BEQUESTS
• And more
We appreciate your consideration of contributing to the funding of research into Alzheimer’s disease.
WE ARE OPTIMISTIC.
WE ARE DRIVEN.
OUR RESEARCHERS ARE RELENTLESS.
AND WE WILL END ALZHEIMER’S.
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Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts 02481