Over the last 20 years, Walt Peschel has explored the effects of his anti-inflammatory drug cocktail on progressive illnesses. When the Indy last wrote about the retired Missoula doctor, in a Jan. 8 cover story, he had seen unprecedented regression in the diseases of several patients, including those with Parkinson's and diabetes. Though many in the medical community have been abuzz about his work, Peschel has faced major roadblocks in funding.
As the year progressed, however, Peschel has received some small but impactful financial support. A few private donors came to his aid, including Tony Day, a Canadian oil baron with Parkinson's who saw big improvements while on Peschel's protocol. The money will help fund more pilot studies that are key to receiving backing for larger research projects.
Peschel points out that he continues to see strong evidence of the cocktail's effectiveness. Out of 10 Parkinson's patients he's worked with, more than half experienced stabilization or regression in their disease. John Harrison, a doctor at Community Medical Center, says he saw some dramatic improvements with Peschel's patients.
With the money he's raised, Peschel recently signed on to work with Fernando Cardozo-Pelaez, a professor of neurotoxicology in the University of Montana's Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. They are working on getting permission for animal studies to further test the cocktails for Parkinson's.
In the meantime, Peschel is also seeing progress with how the cocktail impacts those with different eye diseases. In 2009, Jessie McQuillan, former executive director of the Montana Innocence Project, developed uveitis, an autoimmune disorder that causes 10 to 15 percent of all blindness in the U.S. McQuillan says the drugs she was prescribed included side effects that caused her other problems, including a couple months of blindness, and prompted four surgeries. Since sticking solely to Peschel's protocol in February 2015, there's little evidence she was ever afflicted.
"It's been almost a year now that I've been off these other hardcore medicines and I haven't had a flare-up," she says. "It feels like a huge turnaround."
One of Peschel's most promising partners is the Montana Eye Bank Foundation, which chipped in money this year for his pilot studies and plans on providing more.
But Peschel says he's far from done. He spends his days searching for more money and more patients who are willing to take part in his pilot tests on eye diseases, ulcerative colitis and Parkinson's.
"The public needs to get excited about research such as this because that's the only way it's going to happen," says Tom Stevens, president of the Montana Eye Bank Foundation. "You just never know where a cure might come from. It could be from somebody like Dr. Peschel—and often it is."