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...
That's why I wrote this article on September 22 about three new "brain breakthroughs" and how they are changing our view of this complex organ.
And it drew quite a response. Dozens of you reached out to me with questions and comments.
I am always impressed with the quality of observations I get from you readers.
This is a very smart group that is intrigued with the many advances that are changing the world around us every day, even if they're not quite ripe for investment just yet.
Given the volume and caliber of comments, I thought I should take a moment today to respond.
But before I do, I want to thank you once again for your interest. I couldn't possibly succeed in my quest to document this exciting new world without such great support from you.
A few of you shared deeply personal accounts. Thank you for that, too. I'll do my best to address them.
First, here are two great questions from Al about brain disease ...
Q: This is all very interesting Michael. I'm a member of the Futurist Society, and I haven't seen them uncover anything like your brain advancement posts. Will diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's be minimized in the not-too-distant future? How far out would you guess that to be? ~ Al
A: Thanks for noting the unique slant that I'm taking here and at the Era of Radical Change. I, too, am a member of the Futurist Society. I follow the group to help me keep abreast of key trends about the future.
As regards the two terrible brain diseases you mentioned, the short answer is yes, we are making a lot of progress on both.