For Immediate Release
July 22, 2004
Alzheimer's Association California Council Endorses Proposition 71
Group Joins Broad Coalition Determined to Pass Calif. Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative
(Los Angeles) -- Supporters of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, today announced the measure has been endorsed by the Alzheimer's Association California Council. The initiative, which will appear on the November 2004 ballot, would provide funds needed for the development of lifesaving therapies and cures for diseases that could save the lives of millions of California children and adults and reduce health care costs.
"The Alzheimer's Association is in a race against time as baby boomers start turning 65 in 2010," said Jackie McGrath, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association California Council. "We're facing an epidemic--the number of people with Alzheimer's is predicted to soar from 500,000 in California to 791,500 by 2030. All research avenues should be pursued."
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain. It results in a loss of intellectual functioning - remembering, thinking, and reasoning - severe enough to interfere with everyday life. How rapidly the disease advances varies from person to person, causing confusion, personality and behavior changes, and impaired judgment. Due to the gradual loss of brain cells in different regions of the brain, communication and mobility become difficult and persons with Alzheimer's eventually become unable to care for themselves. The disease process ultimately leads to death. Although existing drug treatments may improve or stabilize symptoms for a time and a great deal of promising research is underway, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia--10% of people over 64 years old are affected as are nearly 50% of those age 85 or older, the fastest growing age group.
The Alzheimer's Association joins a growing coalition of grassroots supporters that already includes Nobel Prize-winning scientists and medical experts, families involved in patient advocacy and efforts to cure diseases, and organizations like the California Medical Association, American Nurses Association of California, American Diabetes Association, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, ALS Therapy Development Foundation, Parkinson's Action Network, the California Congress of Seniors, the Gray Panthers, and the National Coalition for Cancer Research.
It is estimated that 128 million Americans - including millions of Californians - suffer from diseases and injuries that could be treated or cured with stem cell therapies. These devastating medical problems affect a child or adult in nearly half of all families. They also result in hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs annually.
Proposition 71 was developed by a coalition of California families and medical experts determined to close the stem cell research funding gap. Currently, there is no state level funding for stem cell research and political roadblocks have severely limited federal funding for some of the most promising types of stem cell research. The initiative steps forward to provide the needed funding for lifesaving stem cell research, requires strict fiscal and public accountability, protects and benefits the state budget, and includes strict ethical guidelines.
The Alzheimer's Association's mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of any legitimate scientific avenue that offers the potential to advance this goal, as long as it's conducted with established scientific guidelines and accepted ethical considerations. While scientists differ on the promise stem cell research holds for Alzheimer's, Ms. McGrath stated "How much can and will be learned won't be answered until more research opportunities are available."The Alzheimer's Association is the largest private funder of Alzheimer research. Since their founding in 1980, they have provided more than $150 million to support research into the prevention, treatment and eventual cure for Alzheimer's. "We support families and provide hope that we can conquer this disease," said Ms. McGrath.