American Health Assistance Foundation Awards 2007 Research Grants

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CLARKSBURG, MD.-This year, the American Health Assistance Foundation has awarded $9.3 million in grants for its programs in Alzheimer's Disease Research (ADR), Macular Degeneration Research (MDR) and National Glaucoma Research (NGR). The Scientific Review Committees for each program awarded two- and three-year grants to 51 scientists from around the world. All of the investigations are aimed at a better understanding of the causes and processes of these degenerative diseases. Their goal is to develop therapies to slow or reverse the progression, and ultimately to prevent these disorders.

The ADR program offered grants of $6.9 million for research on Alzheimer's disease. Centennial Awards of $1 million each were given to two researchers, one in the U.S. and one in Canada, and 23 other researchers received a total of $4.9 million. These scientists are working to discover new treatments for the disease.

Alzheimer's disease is now estimated to affect more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. and 18 million worldwide. One in eight people age 65 and over, and nearly one in two over age 85 have the disease. As the population ages and the number of those affected rises, investment in research is more important than ever.

Through the MDR program, 13 researchers were given grants totaling $1.3 million. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of visual impairment in the U.S. For those over 65 years old, it is the leading cause of legal blindness in white Americans. Approximately 1.8 million Americans age 40 and older have advanced AMD, and the government estimates that by 2020 there will be 2.9 million people in the advanced stage. Today, in the U.S., another 7.3 million people with intermediate AMD are at substantial risk for vision loss.

NGR offered grants of $1.17 million to 13 researchers seeking a cure for glaucoma. In the U.S., over 2 million people have the most common type of glaucoma, and of these, as many as 120,000 are blind due to the disease. Estimates are that the number of Americans with glaucoma will increase to 3.3 million by the year 2020. Worldwide, an estimated 66.8 million people have visual impairment from glaucoma, with 6.7 million suffering from blindness.

ADR, MDR and NGR are part of the American Health Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating age-related and degenerative diseases through research and public education.