Thursday, October 5, 2006
Medical Reports: Eliminating Alzheimer's
For baby boomers, having a parent with Alzheimer's can be devastating. The disease can rob a person of their memory and their life. But, as 7's Tom Haynes explains, researchers are now closer than ever to eliminating Alzheimer's.
WSVN -- More than 4 million Americans live with Alzheimer's, and millions more say their memory isn't what it used to be. Well, researchers around the world are working to change that.
They've already developed four FDA-approved drugs to treat Alzheimer's, and now doctors are beginning to test drugs that actually stop the disease itself.
Dr. Martin Farlow: "These agents are badly needed because we have nothing right now."
Neurologist Dr. Martin Farlow is part of one study.
He wants to see if the drug Evista -- typically used to treat osteoporosis and breast cancer -- can also help Alzheimer's patients.
If scientists are correct, the drug will work by protecting neurons in the brain.
Dr. Farlow: "This one is before the surgery."
Meanwhile, other researchers are experimenting with a technique called gene transfer.
It works by helping nerves grow in regions of the brain where neurons are dying.
Dr. Zoe Arvantikas: "We're going after something new and using a novel method as well."
But in order to be effective, the gene therapy does require injecting the drug Cere 110 directly into the forebrain.
This way, doctors hope they can avoid interfering with other fully-functioning parts of the brain.
Ron Shellady is living proof of the procedure's potential.
He's the first patient to ever receive a gene transfer, and his memory is signifigantly stronger.
Ron Shellady: "It's easier now not to forget."As long as he doesn't forget his diet.
Doctors say anyone worried about Alzheimer's doesn't have to turn to drugs.
They should first try to lower their risks by taking fish oil supplements or consuming foods like beef or chicken, which contain the chemical niacin.
By the way, gene transfer is now being tested on other patients.
Doctors should be able to publish the results of their study by next summer.
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