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Researcher gets govt. investment for Alzheimer's treatment technique

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The U.S. government will invest nearly $8 million dollars to study an Alzheimer's treatment that was pioneered in Minnesota.

William Frey invented the intranasal system that delivers insulin to the brain. He received patents on the technique in 1997 and 2001. The patents were later sold, and a subsidiary of Novartis owns them now.

During the past five years, several studies including his own, Frey said, have shown that insulin delivered through the nose can improve memory for Alzheimer's patients. He says he is pleased that the government sees the potential of the technique.

"They only mention this one treatment which was, as I say, invented right there in St. Paul," Frey said. "The reason they talk about it is because this is the most promising treatment that has been tested in phase-two clinical trials in patients thus far."

Frey, who directs the Alzheimer's Research Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, is currently conducting a small clinical trial on a new generation of the technology. He hopes his group will qualify for some of the federal research money.

Although Frey applied for federal funding to develop the technology soon after receiving patents, Frey said the government wasn't willing to fund his research at that time.

"You know it's been many, many years since I came up with this treatment and it's been a very, very slow process in trying to convince the federal government and the National Institutes of Health that this is the way to go towards treating Alzheimer's," Frey said. "I'm very excited about it."