Alzheimer 'Breakthrough' Tempts Families to Improvise

Gonzalez says an injection of methylene blue might also be used to treat the potentially lethal condition of methemoglobin, where a person cannot get enough oxygen from their blood and turns a slate-blue color. Or, it can also be injected to treat priapism -- "when you get an erection that won't go away," said Gonzalez.

But at the first news of methylene blue's ability to dissolve tangle filaments, "the world responded, 'yeah, so what?'" Wischik told ABCnews.com. The tangle filaments methylene blue dissolved in the test tube were known to be a hallmark of Alzheimer's in the brain. But at the time, Wischik says, the latest theories about Alzheimer's thought of tangles as a consequence of the Alzheimer's, not as a cause of dementia.

"In the end I decided the only way to win was to win -- to have a clinical trial that proves the point," said Wischik. "I had to form a company to do that."

So now that Rember is in clinical trials, all that Wischik and families like the Romantowski family can do is wait and hope for the scientific research to prove it's a useful drug. This wait is nothing new to the Alzheimer community.

Watching and Waiting

Dr. Ronald Petersen, chair of the medical scientific advisory council of the Alzheimer's Association said Tuesday's glowing coverage of Rember already reached his patients and their families.

"As a result I've already had several calls from my office saying 'Is this available, can I get this for my mom and dad?'" said Petersen. "Some people are desperate out there.

"It's a fine line -- trying to give people the idea that there's hope out there in the field, because there really is, but also tempering the news based on the information."

"We've read so many reports of things that were so promising, and then we go and talk to the neurologist," said Romantowski. "In the final analysis, so far always they don't hold up to the original hype that comes out."

"But there are so many of these studies, that somebody has got to hit on one of these," he said.

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