What if you could get an Alzheimer’s vaccine like you do for measles or chickenpox? Scientists at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center are hoping that day isn’t too far off based on the results of a study using mice.
Researchers claimed to have found a vaccine that stopped the accumulation of the beta-amyloid and tau proteins in the brain, two of the biomarkers of Alzheimer’s and the two most popular targets for Alzheimer’s drugs.
They tested the vaccine, delivered via a shot through the skin, on mice who have been genetically engineered to produce the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s. The shot is made up of DNA from Alzheimer’s proteins that can “teach” the body how to eliminate the proteins in the brain. The injection is called Aβ42, and it makes a three-molecule chain of the protein. The body then produces an antibody, which was shown to stop the build-up of both amyloid and tau.
“This study is the culmination of a decade of research that has repeatedly demonstrated that this vaccine can effectively and safely target in animal models what we think may cause Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Roger Rosenberg, founding Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UT Southwestern. “I believe we’re getting close to testing this therapy in people.”
In the mouse study, the vaccine lowered beta-amyloid by 40 percent and tau by 50 percent.
This isn’t the first time anti-amyloid drugs have been tested. But in the past, they caused swelling of the brain. This vaccine triggers an immune response that doesn’t result in swelling.
If amyloid and tau are the cause of Alzheimer’s, this could be a potential therapy that could slash the number of people with the disease.
“If the onset of the disease could be delayed by even five years, that would be enormous for the patients and their families,” said Dr. Doris Lambracht-Washington, the study’s senior author. “The number of dementia cases could drop by half.”
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