Research into brain health is more critical than ever

By Eileen Doherty

Dear Editor:

Our priority at the Colorado Gerontological Society is providing seniors with the best care possible, which is why we are joining the community in recognizing June as Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. One in 10 Coloradan seniors suffers from Alzheimer's, and many more family members and friends are impacted by the illness. Fatalities from Alzheimer's have increased 85 percent in just the past 15 years, and it is now the sixth leading cause of death in Colorado. Although there are many patient advocacy associations, support groups, and specialized care resources to help manage life for patients with Alzheimer's, there is no cure and no proven prevention method for the disease. However, there is hope on the horizon for new medical breakthroughs that could change the lives of many people at risk of Alzheimer's, which is particularly important as the baby boomer generation reaches the age at which the disease usually begins to attack the brain.

According to a report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), pharmaceutical companies are currently exploring 93 medicines to help patients with Alzheimer's, dementia, and other cognitive disorders. Currently, the federal government is spending almost $1 billion in Alzheimer's research. The biopharmaceutical industry has poured tremendous time and resources into learning more about this disease and how to treat, slow and prevent it. However, Alzheimer's is one of the most challenging, complex diseases ever studied, partially because the brain is the most complicated organ in the body. However, the more we understand about the brain and its many functions, the closer we are to finding potential new treatments and effective medicines. If we impede the research that goes into understanding the brain and its diseases, we risk losing decades of research and progress in this important fight. This is why it is imperative that we continue to support medical innovation and research so that we can develop cures for the world's most complex diseases.

Eileen Doherty