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American Health Assistance Foundation Awards 2008 Research Grants

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CLARKSBURG, MD.-This year, the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF) has awarded a total of $7.9 million in grants for its three programs, 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 54 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 that will slow or reverse disease progression, and ultimately, prevent these disorders.

The ADR program granted $5.2 million to 27 scientists whose research is aimed at discovering new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, an incurable, terminal brain disorder. Alzheimer's is now estimated to affect more than five million people in the U.S. and 26 million worldwide. In the U.S., as many as one out of two people age 85 and older may have this disease, and this age group is one of the fastest growing segments of the population. By the year 2050, the number of Americans affected could rise to 15 million. Alzheimer's takes a heavy financial and emotional toll on those with the disease and their families, and it strains the entire healthcare system. As its devastating effects expand, investment in Alzheimer's disease research is more important than ever.

Through the MDR program, 12 researchers were given grants totaling $1.2 million. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of visual impairment in the U.S. For white Americans over 65 years old, it is the leading cause of legal blindness. Approximately 1.8 million Americans age 40 and older have advanced AMD, and another 7.3 million people with intermediate AMD are at substantial risk for vision loss. Although the progress of AMD can be slowed by treatment, the disease is incurable.

NGR offered grants of $1.5 million to 15 researchers seeking cures 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. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans and Hispanics. Vision experts believe that up to half of those affected by glaucoma may not know it, since there are usually no symptoms until irreversible vision loss has occurred. Although there is no cure, early detection and treatment can slow the disease's progress and prevent vision loss.

ADR, MDR and NGR are programs of the American Health Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for glaucoma, AMD and Alzheimer's disease by funding scientists worldwide through generous donor contributions. Through its outreach efforts, AHAF aids those directly affected and informs the general public about these diseases.