The pitfalls of crowdfunding Alzheimer’s disease research
Mario D. Garrett
Journal Title:International Medicine
With pharmaceutical companies’ repeated failures at finding effective interventions for Alzheimer’s disease, together with an increasing reliance on the growing federal funding for research, there is an emergent opportunity for financing alternate research through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding—where funding is obtained from small donations from a large group of people—has become a new source of funding for medical research. By understanding how the research community has evolved to study Alzheimer’s disease the pitfalls of this strategy can be highlighted. Alzheimer’s disease research is complex. From its inception in the early 1900s, Alzheimer’s disease has been at the center of movement within psychiatry to define the disease on the basis of its biology. Recent emphasis— through the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), RDC (Research Diagnostic Criteria), RDoC (Research Domain Criteria) as well as the more recent Framework from the U.S. National Institute on Aging—have supported an exclusive emphasis on biology. But by excluding other aspects of the disease, such as its clinical expression, this research approach will be shown to be faulty and contradictory. So far, this approach has resulted in 100% failures. By examining the historical and financial circumstances of the industry centered on Alzheimer’s disease a strong warning is given to the public to mistrust crowdfunding Alzheimer’s disease research. A broader and more inclusive approach is likely to generate a better understanding of the disease and therefore hold better promise for understanding the disease in the long term. Such a nuanced approach competes badly with the more binary search for a cure and is less receptive to public support through crowdfunding.