Gene Therapy Trials for Alzheimer's Begin

by Rajashri on Sep 25 2009 8:11 PM

A trial to check the efficacy of gene therapy as a potential treatment for patients with dementia due to Alzheimer's disease is being conducted by scientists from Georgetown University Medical Center.

The trial will test the benefits of CERE-110, which contains a gene that is injected during surgery into a part of the brain affected by Alzheimer's disease.

The gene will instruct brain cells to produce more of a protein, called Nerve Growth Factor or NGF, which helps nerve cells survive and function properly.

The transfer of this gene into the brain is a medical technique called gene therapy.

"Our goal is to stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease," said Dr R. Scott Turner, director of Georgetown's Memory Disorders Program.

About 50 people with Alzheimer's disease will participate in this study at fewer than 10 hospitals nationwide. Only persons with a mild form of Alzheimer's Disease, who are evaluated and deemed competent to consent for themselves, will be permitted to participate in the study.

All patients in the study will undergo surgery to drill two small holes in the skull. Only those patients randomly assigned to receive CERE-110 will have the gene therapy injected into the brain.