Nightly News | February 11, 2012
>>> we're back now with news about alzheimer 's disease. a promising new study has a lot of people talking. a skin cancer drug that reversed signs of alzheimer 's in mice. a development that gives scientists cautious hope about the drug's potential in humans. and next week, president obama will ask congress for an additional $80 million for alzheimer 's research. but that's still a drop in the bucket compared to the $2 trillion experts say is needed to make an impact. we get the story from our chief science correspondent, robert bazell .
>> reporter: at age 84, tippy reader has been moving into alzheimer 's disease for years.
>> i'm a lot more forgettable than i used to be.
>> reporter: doctors can measure the progression with increasingly sophisticated tests. that pick up the signs earlier and earlier. what they can't do is stop her from getting the condition or treat it. today, 5.4 million americans are living with alzheimer 's disease and the same number with memory impairment that often progresses to alzheimer 's. in the next 40 years, those numbers are expected to triple if scientists do not find effective treatments.
>> the bill is passed --
>> reporter: that's why congress recently passed and the president signed the national alzheimer 's project act. a plan to look at all aspects of the disease's threats to society and find an effective treatment by 2025 .
>> this offers us a transformative opportunity to bring alzheimer 's disease to a national agenda and a national dialogue.
>> reporter: but the reality is there's no way to pay for it. everyone realizes the enormous public health impact of alzheimer 's. the labs like this across the country that are working to find a cure are struggle to get the money to pay for it. already alzheimer 's gets far less than many other diseases. in the past decade, the percentage of research projects getting funded has dropped drastically.
>> most people who work on alzheimer 's disease, most scientists, nowadays spend most of their time trying to raise money through the expertments rather than doing the expeerments themselves.
>> their caregivers are unable to advocate because they're exhausted.
>> we're going to do the learning and --
>> reporter: so at the very beginning, the national war on alzheimer 's faces a major obstacle and an enormous lack of funds to fight for a cure. robert bazell , nbc news, new york.