SOURCE: American Health Assistance Foundation

American Health Assistance Foundation

April 19, 2010 13:53 ET

The American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF) Awards $8 Million in New Grants to Cure Age-Related Diseases

CLARKSBURG, MD--(Marketwire - April 19, 2010) -  The American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF) has awarded 52 grants totaling more than $8 million dollars to scientists worldwide who are on the cutting edge of promising discoveries in the areas of Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration and glaucoma. "Innovative research is the only way to find treatments and cures for these devastating age-related diseases. AHAF has the courage to support bold ideas and high risk/high reward research which has included funding the early work of two Nobel Prize winners," said Stacy Pagos Haller, President & CEO of the American Health Assistance Foundation. 

"AHAF takes a broad and global perspective on research, pushing the limits of what is scientifically possible in an effort to find treatments and cures for these incapacitating and life altering age-related diseases," said Guy Eakin, Ph.D., Vice President Scientific Affairs, for the American Health Assistance Foundation.

"Though AHAF has committed itself to tackling three important age-related diseases, the impact of these discoveries will be felt much further. Nearly $1.5 million of these grants will go to explore the relationship between these diseases and other conditions that threaten the health of the elderly," explained Dr. Eakin.

AHAF researchers will be conducting studies to find the links between diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and the over five million American's who have Alzheimer's disease. As the American population ages and the average person's lifestyle has become more sedentary, the prevalence of diabetes and heart disease has risen. Therefore, looking for connections between these diseases is prudent as findings in one disease area may further discoveries in other diseases.

Researchers will also examine the important roles smoking and aging play in macular degeneration. Previous studies have shown smoking to be a high risk factor for age-related macular degeneration. This study will provide an understanding of the effect of smoking on the blood supply to the cells of vision in the retina. Studies will also look at the impact of cholesterol on aging eyes. Based on recent data it is estimated that as many as 11 million people in the United States will have some form of age-related macular degeneration in 2010, and this number is expected to increase to more than 22 million by 2050.

AHAF has also awarded funds for studies on blood pressure and the role of the body's natural antioxidant defenses in controlling glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Nearly three million Americans have glaucoma. Vision experts estimate that half of those affected by glaucoma may not know they have the disease because symptoms may not appear until permanent visual damage has occurred. For this reason glaucoma is called "the sneak thief of sight."

In addition, these grants are exploring diagnostic and drug therapies in all three disease areas. "Our researchers are the pioneers of game-changing discoveries. Their experiments, supported by donations from caring Americans, represent where science is headed and could be the next new treatment or cure, or an important step toward that end," said Dr. Eakin.

To date the American Health Assistance Foundation has awarded more than $110 million to further research in an effort to find cures for Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

To learn more about age-related disease research visit www.ahaf.org or call 800-437-2423. The American Health Assistance Foundation also offers helpful resources to the public.

Stay connected to ground breaking news and discoveries by following AHAF on Twitter and Facebook. Go to www2.ahaf.org/socialnetworking to sign up.

The American Health Assistance Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding cures for age-related and degenerative diseases by funding research worldwide on Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration and glaucoma. The American Health Assistance Foundation also provides the public with free information about these diseases, including risk factors, preventative lifestyles, available treatments and coping strategies