By Stephanie Stahl

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania has more people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease than most other states.  And now Senator Toomey is calling for more research funding.

Some doctors call the number of families confronting Alzheimer’s is a national disaster.  Significant research is being done here in Philadelphia at Penn.

The Neurodegenerative Disease lab at Penn Medicine was visited today by Senator Pat Toomey.  His  father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year.

“I’ve seen firsthand just how devastating the disease is for the patients, obviously, but also for the caregivers and the families generally,” said Senator Toomey.

The hope for Senator Toomey’s family and millions of others struggling with Alzheimer’s is that researchers can find better treatments, maybe someday a cure.

The Penn team has confirmed that destructive proteins in the brain can spread.  Understanding how Alzheimer’s progresses paves the way for targeted therapies.

“The idea is that once you understand the disease protein and how it becomes diseased you can intervene in the pathways that lead, that are part of that process,” said Dr. John Trojanowski, Director of the Institute on Aging at Penn.  He says Alzheimer’s falls behind AIDS in research funding from the National Institutes of Health.

“Currently it’s 700 million dollars, but that’s a far cry from what is needed to really move the needle on Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Trojanowski.

Senator Toomey, a member of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s, agrees more money needs to be spent on Alzheimer’s.  The question is how?

“I’m not sure yet whether we need to propose legislation or we need to simply work on increasing some of the funding that’s available,” said Senator Toomey.

The Penn Memory Center is now enrolling healthy, older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s for a study aiming to prevent memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s.

For more information, visit the following link:

Alzheimer’s Disease Penn Study Information-

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