July 21, 2005
By: Orrin Schonfeld
Today Lola Crosswhite fights Alzheimer's Disease with the help of medications, notes and her daughter Diana Shaw.
She also tried fighting it with gene therapy. In 2002, Crosswhite was one of eight patients to test the safety of the first gene therapy for Alzheimer's Disease. Doctors gave cells in her brain the gene for making a substance called growth factor, shown in animal tests to protect brain cells from deteriorating. Crosswhite believes it helped, but now says she's declining again.
Researchers led by Mark Tuszynski reported in the journal 'Nature Medicine' that the safety trial showed promise. But they can't know if any benefits were real because all of the patients got the gene.
Tuszynski says the next trial will also use an improved gene delivery method that might be longer-lasting.
Shaw and Crosswhite say they were blessed with two good years.
Crosswhite hopes the research will benefit others at risk for Alzheimer's, maybe even her own children. I'm Orrin Shonfeld.
Researchers hope to soon start the second phase of the trial at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
For more information on experimental gene therapy.