New Alzheimer's drug offers hope

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hearing the words "cure" and "Alzheimer's" together in the same sentence would be a medical miracle for the 5 million Americans living everyday with this devastating condition. In the meantime, the National Institute on Aging will soon recruit a small number of patients to test a new drug that researchers hope will reverse the damage that Alzheimer's has already done.

Muriel Levy and her 79-year-old husband Gordon Hallerman have been married for 10 years. Second marriages for both.

Hallerman's good health faded two years ago when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"There are times when I would walk into the kitchen and then not remember what it is I was going in there for," Gordon Hallerman told ABC30.

"Gordon is doing well and we work together. But certain things he was able to do he could no longer do," Muriel Levy told ABC30.

But what if he could reverse what Alzheimer's has taken away?

"What we've been studying is a new medicine that helps the brain to recover from injury," Sam Gandy, M.D., PhD, Director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine told ABC30.

Dr. Sam Gandy explores the Alzheimer's brain - the plaque build-up that destroys the nerve cells responsible for memory.

"What this medicine does is to help form new brain cells," explained Dr. Gandy

The drug doesn't have a name yet - only a number, BCI-838 - and must undergo clinical trials in the elderly.

"We are aiming at people who perhaps already have some problems," said Dr. Gandy.

For Hallerman, who sang professionally, this is a first -- a drug aimed at patients just like him.

"It could be a life change for us," said Levy.

Dr. Gandy and his team have tested BCI-838 in mice, and have also tested the drug for safety in humans, in a very small group of young, healthy adults. Gandy says the phase one clinical trial will recruit older adults who have mild Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment. When the trial is ready to begin enrollment, it will be posted on, and anyone interested can check the site for updates.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Elizabeth Dowling Steinke

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