BALTIMORE (WJZ)—One in eight older Americans has Alzheimer’s disease. Now doctors right here in Baltimore break new ground in the fight against it.

Adam May reports the procedure could someday help millions.

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Doctors at Johns Hopkins University are experimenting with a pacemaker for the brain to combat Alzheimer’s disease. They implanted one of the devices Thursday, a first-of-its-kind surgery in the United States.

“What’s exciting is our understanding of how memory works, fit with how this surgery might work,” said Dr. Paul Rosenberg, Alzheimer’s specialist.

It relies on the same technology as pacemakers for the heart, but instead it stimulates the brain.

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Alzheimer’s disease robs its victims of their memory and ability to perform the most basic tasks.

“What we’re hoping to see is improved memory, and people don’t decline as fast as they would without the treatment,” Rosenberg said.

Experimental medications have failed to cure or significantly slow the progress of the brain-damaging illness.

Doctors in Canada have performed six of the pacemaker implants to stave off Alzheimer’s disease. So far, findings are positive.

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The same device is used also to battle Parkinson’s disease.