LaHood talks Alzheimer’s research funding during visit to med school
U.S. Rep Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, talked Friday about the importance of funding the National Institutes of Health after hearing about Alzheimer’s disease research efforts at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield.
Jerry Kruse, dean and provost of the medical school, said while there is not a cure for Alzheimer’s, researchers are investigating whether there are ways to diagnose it earlier with new biomarkers, lab tests and testing therapeutic agents.
“We’re moving down that road of trying to find cures and prevention,” Kruse said.
Researchers at the facility are getting $6.3 million through two grants from NIH. The centers for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders gets $1.5 million in funding from the state.
LaHood said he is going to advocate for more funding for the NIH when he goes back to Washington, D.C.
“Not only does it help us here locally, it helps the entire country,” he said. “Those grants wouldn’t be possible if we’re not appropriating dollars to NIH as it relates to Alzheimer’s research. I’ve been a strong supporter of continued funding at NIH for cancer, for Alzheimer’s, for neurological diseases. It’s vitally important. It’s taxpayer money that in the long run is going to save us money.”
LaHood serves as co-chair of the Working Group on Alzheimer’s in the U.S. House, along with being co-chair of the Ways and Means Committee.
“NIH funding is vitally important to finding a cure to Alzheimer’s,” he said. “Being here today and learning about the clinical trials that are going on in this building behind me, the professionals who are involved with that ... (are) having an impact right here in central Illinois and Springfield.”
Kruse said researchers are collaborative across the country and world, though every lab has its own things they are doing that add to Alzheimer’s research. For the SIU, it is working with the neurotransmitter glutamate, researching couple of new medicines and focusing on Alzheimer’s in the early stages in mice.
Families of patients with Alzheimer’s disease were at the School of Medicine to hear about new advances.
“That’s how we’re reaching out to the public, letting them know what’s going on, that there is hope for the future, (and) they might be of some help in helping us get there,” Kruse said.
In 2016, there were 220,000 people in Illinois with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The number is projected to increase by 18.2 percent by 2025.
LaHood called the presence of HSHS St. John’s Hospital and Memorial Medical Center the “future of Springfield.”
“We’re attracting professionals here in the medical field,” he said.