Senate Considers Alzheimer’s Bill

Published August 3, 2018

At a meeting of the Senate Special Committee on Aging on June 19, lawmakers discussed the bill, introduced in November 2017 by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), with no one stating opposition to the legislation.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. The BOLD Act is one of the first large-scale congressional initiatives to address the disease from multiple angles. According to Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, the BOLD Act would establish Alzheimer’s Centers of Excellence around the country, provide funding to state and local organizations to foster early detection, and support an increase in collection and analysis of Alzheimer’s data.

‘A Well-Meaning Attempt’

Edward Hudgins, research director at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Health Care News, says despite bipartisan support and noble intentions, the BOLD Act is not the answer for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. The FDA’s lengthy and daunting approval process for new Alzheimer’s drugs and treatment options is the main roadblock preventing patients from accessing new methods of care that show great promise in combating Alzheimer’s and dementia, Hudgins says.

Allowing patients greater access to experimental care would help spread innovative new treatments better than the proposed legislation, Hudgins says.

“The BOLD Act legislation currently before the U.S. Congress is a well-meaning attempt to provide services for Alzheimer’s sufferers and public information,” Hudgins said. “But adding another government program does not get to the root of the problem. The most promising work on Alzheimer’s is found in bio-hacking and tissue-based research such as the new stem-cell treatment offered in Japan.”

Sees Promise in Technologies

Hudgins says the key to treating Alzheimer’s and other persistent diseases is to allow people to try emerging, innovative treatment options.

“As researchers better understand the nature of the disease, they now have a technology that could allow them to engineer cells, possibly to stop or even reverse the disease or to regrow damaged brain cells,” Hudgins said. “Also promising is work on nanotech implants and brain-computer interfaces. Companies like Kernel or Elon Musk’s Neuralink seek to create implants to replace damaged parts of the brain or, through a ‘neural lace,’ connect the brain to computers to enhance cognitive abilities.

“Government should not stand in the way of such promising innovations,” Hudgins said.

Ashley Pappas ([email protected]) writes from Chicago, Illinois.