Back to the drawing board for CJD treatment

The death of woman with CJD being treated with a novel drug combination casts doubts on the 'miracle cure' claim for the disease.

Pat Hagan(phagan@btinternet.com)
Dec 6, 2001

LONDON — National newspapers and TV like nothing better than a 'miracle cure'. And the story last summer of a young British woman who appeared to make an astonishing recovery from variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD), after being the first human guinea pig to try a new drug treatment (quinacrine and chlorpromazine), had all the right ingredients for the journalistic frenzy that followed.

Rachel Forber, from Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside, was a happy, active young, former soldier who quickly declined to a bed-ridden invalid requiring constant care after developing the disease.

Yet within three weeks of starting the quinacrine and chlorpromazine regime, doctors were reported that she was able to get out of bed, walk unaided and even swim without support. It was a remarkable transition which, the newspapers suggested, seemed to offer the first real hope that science might have got the better of this devastating disease.

But the death...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?