A recent meeting convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) could dramatically alter how researchers study Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The NIH issued new recommendations, based on the recent Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit, which could speed up work leading to the development of treatments for AD. During the summit, more than 60 AD experts met to discuss research recommendations.
“Alzheimer’s research is entering a new era in which creative approaches for detecting, measuring and analyzing a wide range of biomedical data sets are leading to new insights about the causes and course of the disease,” stated NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “In these times of significant fiscal constraints, we need to work smarter, faster and more collaboratively. These recommendations underscore the importance of data sharing and multidisciplinary partnerships to a research community that looks to the NIH for guidance on the way forward.”
The recommendations may help academia, government and industry to work together more effectively.
“Determining the best path for progress in Alzheimer’s disease research has been as challenging and complicated as the disorder itself,” remarked National Institute of Aging (NIA) Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “These recommendations support a research framework that empowers all stakeholders — including those with the disease or at risk for developing it — to engage in the vital effort to find treatments.”
The meeting occurred on February 9-10, 2015, and included 500 participants onsite, and 500 additional participants via videocast.
General suggestions developed by the experts included:
- Promote greater understanding of healthy brain aging
- Emphasize data-driven research approaches
- In research studies, use more devices that can track patient health in real time
- Support open science–meaning scientists should share information readily as it is collected
- Offer incentives for collaborative, transparent and reproducible research
- Invest in a scientific workforce
- Involve the public more in research, including caregivers and patient
Hodes further noted: “These recommendations support a research framework that empowers all stakeholders — including those with the disease or at risk for developing it — to engage in the vital effort to find treatments.”
The National Advisory Council on Aging will further consider the recommendations at its meeting on May 12 and 13. The ultimate goal is to increase the rate of discovery and to tap into new technology and research, furthering the understanding and treatment of AD.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, worldwide, almost 44 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia. The cost of caring for Alzheimer’s patients in the United States is an estimated $226 billion in 2015. The worldwide cost of Alzheimer’s and dementia is an estimated $605 billion