Brain Center Vying for Piece of $100M - 8 News NOW

Brain Center Vying for Piece of $100M

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LAS VEGAS -- There is no known cure for Alzheimer's, a debilitating disease that causes irreversible neurological damage.

The disease already affects more than 6,000 patients in Nevada, and doctors anticipate that number to double by 2015.

President Barack Obama announced this week he wants to invest millions of dollars into researching the brain and its diseases.

Obama said it's a step toward finding better ways to treat such conditions as Alzheimer's, autism, stroke and traumatic brain injuries.

The White House said the idea would require the development of new technology that can record the electrical activity of individual cells and complex neural circuits in the brain "at the speed of thought."

Local neurologists said the funding will bring them one step closer to a cure.

Greg Chase chokes up hearing the president's words.

"I have a 92-year-old grandmother who has been suffering from severe, severe dementia," he said.

Chase said his once vibrant and outspoken grandmother, Virginia, no longer remembers his face.

"They look at you in the eye and have no idea who you are," Chase said. "And, when things get to that point, it's beyond words, really."

Obama announced $100 million will go towards mapping the human brain, in hopes of finding cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and dementia.

A neurologist with the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas said he hopes some of that funding will come to the clinic.

"What we're going to get is new insight on how the brain works together," said Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, the center's director. "And that will benefit all diseases."

The center has the latest technology in brain research and therapies.

"We don't know whether a cure is one step away," he said. "But we do know that we have to take today's step now. And the new funding from the Obama administration allows us to make those steps forward."

Chase said it may be too late to save his grandmother, but at least it gives him hope that a cure is just around the corner.

"That's what it's all about," he said. "Life is too short to get caught up in the politics that we all deal with everyday. At the end of the day this will improve people quality of life and this is what it's all about."

A committee with the Science Foundation will decide who gets a portion of the $100 million funds.

However, Cummings with the Cleveland Clinic thinks all of it will go towards researching animals for brain diseases.

But he says their clinic here will benefit on those findings.

(The Associated Press contributed to the report.)

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