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June 2015

The Human Alzheimer Disease ProjectA New Call to Arms

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • 2Editor, JAMA Neurology
  • 3Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota
JAMA Neurol. 2015;72(6):626-628. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.67

The message of this Editorial is simple and straightforward. For the past decade or more, billions of dollars have been invested by the pharmaceutical industry and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop effective therapies for Alzheimer disease. Despite these vast sums of money, an effective therapy to delay or prevent Alzheimer disease has not been developed. Seeing the lack of progress, several major pharmaceutical companies have reduced or eliminated their Alzheimer disease efforts. The result means that without an effective therapy, the number of individuals in the United States who will develop Alzheimer disease in the next 25 years will increase from about 5.5 million to 12 million or more. In a recent analysis of the state of US health from 1990 to 2010, Murray and colleagues1 reported that Alzheimer disease had increased more in rank (from 32 to 9) of years lost to life because of premature mortality compared with any other major disease during this 20-year period. On a worldwide basis, approximately 50 million persons will develop Alzheimer disease by 2050. Further, as we all know, it is not just the individual with Alzheimer disease who is affected but entire families, including spouses, children, and significant others who are mobilized to help the affected individual.

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