Joyce Mason can remember the words to her favorite love song. But some days, this former psychiatric nurse can't remember where she is in her own home.
"Getting from one place to another, sometimes around the house, which sounds crazy," Joyce told Ivanhoe. Joyce was diagnosed with dementia four years ago. Her husband Sam watched his wife start to slip away.
"We do our prayers together, some days she's on top of things. Some days, she struggles to find the pages," Sam explained.
Joyce joined a clinical trial studying immune globulin, given intravenously, also called IGIV. It's been used for 20 years to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases. The therapy targets the plaques in the brain of Alzheimer's patients the chief culprit of memory loss.
IGIV may be able to destroy the plaques and remove them from the brain.
"What we are looking and hoping for is to slow rate of decline or a slow rate of decline," Brigid Reynolds, NP clinical coordinator of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, explained.
Patients get an infusion every two weeks for 18 months. If it works, the treatment would need to continue for the rest of their lives. Joyce believes it's helping her hold on to her memories.
"That's the most we can really hope for. It will slow the progress of the disease," Joyce said.
She's planning on an active future, which includes her daughter's wedding.
"Getting my daughter married to the neatest guy in the world. That's what I'm looking forward to," Joyce shared. It's a perfect place to show off her dancing skills.
IGIV already has FDA approval for autoimmune deficiencies. It's been proven in animal studies to be safe and effective in preventing memory loss. A phase two trial revealed reduced rates of brain shrinkage in patients who received IGIV treatment.