Proposal can help dementia

Published 3:31 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2015

This morning, Sen. Roger Wicker unveiled his legislative proposal that aims to accelerate finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The Mississippi Republican’s proposal, called “Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s Act” (EUREKA), would promote prize competitions to accelerate the development of disease-modifying treatments, means of prevention or cures for the disease.

The Act would authorize the government to support prize competitions to achieve high-priority breakthrough discoveries in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, including innovations in caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s and to support family caregivers.

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Wicker’s proposal is linked to the national goal of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, and it is an effort to get more funding dollars dedicated to the cause.

The bill authorizes $10 million annually for five years and authorizes the government to solicit and receive contributions from other sources including public and private entities and individuals.

“In terms of alleviating human suffering and saving money for the taxpayers, this is a critical moment,” Wicker said. “By 2050, more than a trillion dollars a year will be spent, mostly by taxpayers, to treat Alzheimer’s. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the House on my ‘EUREKA Act.’ It is time for us to consider alternate approaches to government-funded breakthroughs, and prize-based challenges are an excellent investment for the government. With the prize, you pay only for success.”

Promoting competition among scientists and researchers is a smart idea. Scientists want to solve puzzles and find cures. They strive to use their brains and come up with new methods for everything. Too often scientists run out of funding and must stop their work, but diseases don’t stop striking.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association:

• One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

• It’s the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed.

• In 2015, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $226 billion, and those costs will rise to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

• Every 67 seconds someone in the U.S. develops the disease.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are areas of concern for aging families, particularly for a retiree destination like Oxford, and this is a creative way to address a need.