Alzheimer's Research Strategy Announced

Warning signs. Developing brain scans and other biomarkers that detect the earliest stages of Alzheimer's is a priority for researchers.

U.S. National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

An international panel of experts released recommendations today for future research on Alzheimer's disease. The recommendations will help guide the research component of the new national plan for Alzheimer's disease announced Tuesday by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The plan sets the ambitious goal of developing effective prevention and treatment strategies for Alzheimer's by 2025.

The new research strategy was developed by experts who met during a 2-day summit at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, earlier this week. The panel acknowledges a number of challenges facing the field, including the need to develop better experimental models and to initiate clinical trials at earlier stages of the disease. Their recommendations include conducting more interdisciplinary research on the biological mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease and therapeutic targets, enabling more rapid and extensive sharing of data and biological specimens, and fostering more public-private partnerships (along the lines of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a successful biomarker development effort jointly funded by NIH and the pharmaceutical industry). The panel also calls for more research on nondrug interventions, such as lifestyle changes, that might prevent or slow the disease.

A financial stimulus for Alzheimer's research appears to be in the works: President Barack Obama's proposed 2013 budget includes $80 million in new funding. Congress has yet to weigh in on that plan.