A driving purpose of the Alzheimer's Impact Movement (AIM) and the Alzheimer's Association is to advocate for policies that advance research, such as those contained in the 21st Century Cures Act. The Cures Act supports healthcare innovation to accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of new treatments and cures for all diseases, including Alzheimer’s and other dementia.

The bill would establish a $4.8 billion National Institutes of Health (NIH) Innovation Projects account to fund programs under the BRAIN Initiative, the Cancer Moonshot, and Precision Medicine Initiative, and research on regenerative medicine. Encouragingly, $1.6 billion would be directed to the BRAIN Initiative spread over the next 10 years. Focused on better understanding the human brain, the BRAIN Initiative works to accelerate the development and implementation of innovative technologies, allowing researchers new ways to treat, cure, and prevent brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. AIM and the Alzheimer’s Association have strongly supported both the BRAIN Initiative and the Precision Medicine Initiative since their inception because of their relevance to and potential to accelerate Alzheimer’s research projects.

Another highlight in the bill is that the 21st Century Cures Act would also enact legislation AIM and the Association enthusiastically support - the Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s (EUREKA) Act sponsored by Senator Wicker (R-MS). The inclusion of the EUREKA Prize Competitions in the 21st Century Cures Act will help to advance research breakthroughs for Alzheimer’s disease, and encourage public-private partnerships.

AIM and the Alzheimer’s Association have worked with the House Energy and Commerce Committee on development of the 21st Century Cures Act since it was first introduced by Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO). Considered a priority by both parties, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on it this week, with the Senate following before the close of the 114th Congress.

The funding announced for the BRAIN Initiative through 21st Century Cures is needed now more than ever, as illustrated by a recent failure of a promising drug in a phase III trial. Funding for additional research that will enable better approaches to studying the brain, to conduct this research with greater precision, and harness the power of innovative funding mechanisms will equip the research community for research into treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association released a letter of support for the 21st Century Cures Act to the bill’s sponsors in the House and Senate on November 28. Learn more about our support for the 21st Century Cures Act and other legislation to support innovative research in my blog post for BioTechNow here.

Robert Egge is the Chief Public Policy Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Impact Movement.