This news comes at an opportune time. Just last summer, the whole effort suffered a major setback.
That's when three Big Pharma firms said they were halting development of Alzheimer's compounds because the medicines simply didn't work. No doubt, that was a blow for both patients and investors in Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ).
But this month we learned that a research team at Johns Hopkins has for the first time implanted a promising device into the brain of a U.S. Alzheimer's patient. It seems to combat the effects of Alzheimer's by providing deep-brain stimulation. It works very much like the pacemaker that's normally used in the heart.
Over the next year or so, a total of 40 patients will receive the implants under a federally funded trial.
This is a big move with very promising potential. You see, doctors have used a similar device to control Parkinson's disease for about the past 15 years, with some 80,000 patients receiving the implants. They report having fewer seizures and needing less medication.
I believe this very well could be the bridge technology we need until a true "cure" for Alzheimer's is found. Right now, the chances look good that this interim step will succeed.
"This is a very different approach, whereby we are trying to enhance the function of the brain mechanically," says Dr. Paul B. Rosenberg. "It's a whole new avenue for potential treatment for a disease becoming all the more common with the aging of the population."
As high-tech investors, we need to keep an eye on this research and be ready to pounce when a medical-device maker gets it to market.
I don't know just when that will happen. But when it does, you can bet that I'll drop you a line.
Meantime, I have four more fascinating developments to share with you today.
Take a look...