Menendez Tours Rutgers Lab Developing Groundbreaking Alzheimer’s Treatment

Menendez Tours Rutgers Lab Developing Groundbreaking Alzheimer’s Treatment

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

 
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today marked Alzheimer’s Awareness Month by visiting with a team of Rutgers University researchers developing a revolutionary treatment for the devastating neurological disorder.  The senator—whose late mother, Evangelina, suffered from Alzheimer’s—renewed his commitment to fight for greater federal funding to help find effective treatments and a cure.

“I have made it my mission to do everything within my power to end the scourge of Alzheimer’s and to fight at the federal level for the millions of people who are suffering from the disease—for the many more who will suffer unless we find effective treatment, and for all of their friends and family who love and care for them,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Now is the time to support the great minds and grueling hours of those laboring away to find cures and treatments. Now is the time to support our scientists and give them the tools and resources they need, to make sure that groundbreaking research continues and expands at our nation’s leading scientific centers, like Rutgers.”

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An estimated 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and that number is predicted to more than triple by 2050 as people live longer.  There is currently no pharmacological treatment for the disease and research funding through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have failed to keep pace with the rate of inflation for over a decade.

Scientists at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology are studying the use of certain drugs that have been known to slow the rate of brain cell death as an effective treatment for both Alzheimer’s and patients with traumatic brain injury.  In early trials of Dasatinib, an FDA-approved drug for leukemia, the Rutgers team has shown it to be effective in reducing both memory loss and damage to nerve tissue in test subjects. 

“Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and at a cellular level shares many common elements of neurodegenerative function as other disorders that develop as we age.  The importance of funding in support of basic research aims to advance both diagnostic and therapeutic tools, and ultimately improve the care provided to patients who are affected,” said Federico Sesti, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience and cell biology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  “We have all seen the effect of Alzheimer’s within our own families and with friends and the support shown by Senator Menendez, and other elected officials, underscores the importance of continued funding so that we may help find better treatments, or possibly a cure.”  

Dr. Sesti led Sen. Menendez on a tour of his team’s lab on Rutgers’ Piscataway campus, in which he explained their early findings and demonstrated how they perform their analysis. 

Sen. Menendez cosponsored the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, signed into law in 2011, that established the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services, which formulated the National Alzheimer’s Plan setting forth a series of goals, including the development of effective prevention and treatment approaches to Alzheimer’s and related dementias by 2025.  To further this goal, Sen. Menendez supported a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s research—60 percent above FY2015 levels—and an $2 billion in NIH funding in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, and cosponsored the Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s (EUREKA) Act authorizing NIH and other federal research agencies to establish prize competitions to advance the development of early detection and treatment.

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