In this medical video learn how researchers are using gene transfer technology to treat Alzheimer's.
Read the full transcript »
Jennifer Mathews: Each year, more than four million Americans will be told they have Alzheimer's disease. Neurologist Zoe Arvanitakis says we've made an impact on the disease, but more is needed. Zoe Arvanitakis: There are several FDA approved medications to treat Alzheimer's disease, so they help with the symptoms of the disease, but they don't seem to change the underlying course of the disease. Jennifer Mathews: Researchers from Rush University hope to do just that. Zoe Arvanitakis: We're going after something completely new and using a very novel method as well. Jennifer Mathews: It's called gene transfer. It uses the drug Cere 110 to send growth factors deep into the brain. Zoe Arvanitakis: The issue up until now has been how to safely and effectively deliver nerve growth factors to the brain. Jennifer Mathews: Now, using very thin needles, surgeons inject the drug into the area of the brain that deteriorates very early on in Alzheimer's. Ron Shellady and his wife Sue knew they needed to act fast when Ron got his diagnosis. Ron Shellady: I didn't want to get any worse. And I, you know, talked to Suzy about it, and I basically said, 'I don't care. I'll do anything." Jennifer Mathews: And he did. Last July, he was the first patient in the world to receive this new drug. Sue: He's always been kind-of number one. Ron Shellady: I like to win. There's no fun in losing. Jennifer Mathews: Since the treatment, Ron says, he's no longer losing his memory, but only time will tell how effective the treatment really is. Ron Shellady: It's easier now not to forget; yes, I would say that's true. I pay more attention. I'm more attentive to things that I have, that I know I have to pay attention to. Jennifer Mathews: With six grandkids, he'll have a lot to keep his eyes and his mind on. This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.