Gold Coast doctors join Alzheimer's trial

Prof Philip Morris

TWO Gold Coast doctors are travelling to the US to learn a controversial new treatment that offers hope to Alzheimer's patients.

Professors Stephen Ralph and Philip Morris will then take the technique to Griffith University's Coast campus, where they will inject an anti-inflammatory drug into the neck of patients before turning them upside down.
The Griffith Health Institute clinical trial, to cost about $100,000, will initially look to alleviate the suffering of 12 of the 80,000 Australian Alzheimer's patients.
The drug Etanercept is already widely used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
But the controversy surrounding its use for Alzheimer's -- and the reason medical experts across the world are divided -- is its new application.
Dr Edward Tobinick, of the Institute of Neurological Research in Los Angeles, pioneered the technique and has seen marked improvements in about 100 patients.
Dr Morris said treatment involved injecting Etanercept into the veins that ran along the spinal column.
He said the patient was then tilted 70 degrees downward so the injection could diffuse through the brain.
Studies in the US have shown rapid improvement in mental alertness and response.
Currently there are no effective treatments to delay or prevent Alzheimer's.
Dr Morris has met with doctors behind the treatment.  "The improvement was nearly unbelievable," he said.  Dr Morris said locals were already lining up for the treatment.
If the technique proves successful, the doctors hope to extend the study further.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows dementia and Alzheimer's deaths have more than doubled in 10 years.
They are now the third-leading cause of death in Australia.
The disease affects the lives of nearly one million Australians and at least $1 in every $40 in the Australian health system is spent on dementia.
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