Longer Lives, Greater Risk
In 1906, when Alois Alzheimer first described the disease that bears his name, the average United States life expectancy was about 50 years. Few people reached the age at which Alzheimer’s disease begins to take its toll. As a result, the disease was considered rare, attracting little scientific interest.
Today, the estimated U.S. life expectancy has reached nearly 80 years. Among the wave of baby boomers who will live this long or longer, almost one in two will be affected by this disease, and as
many will serve as caregivers—exacting a massive toll on our economy and on our families. Given this growing Alzheimer’s pandemic, the disease has moved to the forefront of biomedical research.
While research is taking place in laboratories around the world, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has prioritized 27 major U.S. medical institutions as designated Alzheimer’s Disease Centers. World-class researchers and physicians at these comprehensive centers are collaborating to translate scientific advances into improved diagnoses and treatment, while remaining focused on the longer-term goal of preventing or curing Alzheimer’s disease.
From Basic Science to Vital Therapies
The comprehensive Alzheimer’s disease program that CU seeks to establish will span basic laboratory research, translational research, clinical trials and patient care. The work begins in basic scientific labs, where theories about the causes of disease will be proposed and tested. When the results are promising, researchers will move through testing stages toward clinical studies in which a treatment’s real-life efficacy for humans is tested first among a small group of volunteers, and later among thousands of participants.
The beneficiaries of this research will be patients throughout the Front Range and beyond who will have access to these trials here at the Anschutz Medical Campus under the care of leading, locally based physicians. Coloradans living with Alzheimer’s—for whom the nearest comprehensive Alzheimer’s center is now 800 miles away—will experience better care as patients, and greater benefit from cutting-edge research.