Nightly News | May 15, 2012
>>> we begin today with a glimmer of hope, news of a new clinical trial that could lead to a treatment to prevent alzheimer 's disease . millions of americans live in constant daily fire of it, millions more are living with it. millions more are caring for them. the numbers in fact are bad, almost five and a half million americans are currently living with the disease . that makes it an epidemic by any measure. by 2050 , that will go to 16 million americans , at a cost of over a trillion dollars to treat it. it's why the government has launched a war on this disease . and all hopes are now riding on this research and treatment that could prevent it. it's where we begin here tonight with robert bazell .
>> roughly every hour another american develops alzheimer 's disease . glen campbell is one of them. today his daughter spoke about it.
>> it's really hard to come to the realization that eventually he's going to look at me and i'm going to be nothing to him.
>> reporter: today the government announced the details of a national plan to confront the affliction that threatens to overwhelm the nation's health and social services .
>> the breakthroughs leading to treatments have been slow in coming. we've yet to harness the right formula for drug development . and clinical trial results continue to be disappointing.
>> the goal is to find a way to stop or at least slow the progression of the disease by 2025 . as part of that effort, the government is pumping millions of dollars into two studies. one study already underway in the u.s. will test to see if a drug can prevent progression of the disease . the family in iowa is in the study. their members have a 50/50 chance of having a gene that puts them at risk for alzheimer 's at a young age.
>> i'm proud of the fact that we're not just sitting back wane letting control our lives.
>> reporter: a second study with the same goal is underway with a group of families near colombia. results for both studies are years away and uncertain. but recent alzheimer 's research has concluded that very early intervention may be the only way to slow or stop the disease .
>> brain changes that ultimately result in alzheimer dementia occur 15 to 20 years before there are any signs or symptoms of dementia.
>> reporter: the government's plan also includes a website, where families can get information on resources in their community.
>> we need to find a cure for this.
>> this year alone, the government estimates that payments for the care of people with alzheimer 's are $200 billion. despite those numbers, research into alzheimer 's gets a lot less money than research into other diseases. several scientists i've spoken with say the plan is fine, but what matters is what congress alloca allocates.
>> it is a start. and