Medical Minute 10-24:

By: Andrew McIntosh
By: Andrew McIntosh

At 93, Teresa Alfonzo has seen and done a lot. But because of a devastating diagnosis 10 years ago, she's now fighting to keep her most precious possession -- her memories.

"We started noticing she couldn't take care of herself."

The Alfonzos are one of 35-million families dealing with the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease. A few months ago, Teresa's ability to remember the most basic skills started to go. She couldn't even draw a clock. That's when the Alfonzos decided to try something new. Teresa started on axona -- a medical shake regulated by the FDA.

"They mix it with usually a high protein drink, usually a milkshake or boost, and they drink it right after breakfast," said Susan Steen, M.D., Neurologist, South Tampa Memory Center/President, Axiom Clinical Research.

Alzheimer's patients lose the ability to use glucose in the blood. Two hours after drinking axona, it's converted into ketone bodies that circulate to the brain and produce energy.

"Ketone bodies are the only things aside from sugar your brain can use as food."

In a 90-day, double blind study of 152 Alzheimer's patients, 77 took axona. 45-percent of them showed signs of improvement after 45 days. While it doesn't work for everyone, Doctor Richard Isaacson says it's worth a shot.

"You have at least a 40 to 45 percent chance of having this medical food work, in my opinion, 40 percent is a lot higher than zero."

"It's a blessing really. It's a huge progress."

A simple drawing made possible by a drink that's helping this family turn back the hands of time.

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