new alzheimers treatment

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    Treatment Uses Gene Therap


    In a a potental breakthrough for Alzheimer's disease, surgeons in Chicago are, for the first time, injecting a gene therapy directly into the brain cells of Alzheimer's patients.

    NBC5's Nesita Kwan reported Tuesday that about 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and the problem will get worse as the population ages.

    Current medicines treat some of the symptoms, but they can't stop the memory loss that people such as Sue Shellady first noticed two and a half years ago in her husband, Ron.

    "One of the most serious things -- I knew there was a problem -- was when our last grandchild was born and he forgot her name," Sue Shellady said.

    Recently, the Shelladys (pictured) joined doctors at Rush University Medical Center to talk about the experimental gene therapy Ron received in July. The current study is designed to ensure the drug's safety, not to measure how well it works.

    Neurosurgeon Roy Backay uses MRI scans to locate the damaged cells, then injects them with a strand of human DNA designed to restore those cells to health. An earlier study, using a less sophisticated technique, has already shown dramatic results.

    "The degree of progression or decline decreased by 30 to 50 percent in those patients," Backay said.

    Ron Shellady said he can see a difference.

    "I used to lay something down there, walk away, and [say] 'Where in the hell did I put that?'" Ron Shellady said. "Now, I can pick it up in the same spot. I guess that's the best way I can tell you."

    The current study is enrolling up to 12 Alzhiemer's patients with mild to moderate symptoms of the disease.






 
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