University of Texas Southwestern researchers have announced the development of a vaccine that has been shown to improve Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice, monkeys, and rabbits. As a matter of fact, one researcher comments that they are quite confident the vaccine is ready for testing as a human therapy.
UT Southwestern Brain Institute’s Peter O’Donnell explains that this vaccine reduces tau and beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. The presence of these proteins (or their elevated presence, rather) has been consistently linked to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Although a similar vaccine has also been developed somewhere, that sister project resulted in brain swelling in some human patients, and this new vaccine does not seem to have the same side effect. And that is why, of course, they are excited to move towards human trials.
University of Texas Southwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center founding director Dr. Roger Rosenberg comments that this is a new approach to vaccine administration. He describes that the vaccine is injected into the skin cells of mice instead of the muscles of mice (as has been the procedure in the past). This, Rosenberg notes, is how they have managed to elicit the more successful immune response.
A news release further investigates that injecting the vaccine into the skin cells produces a three-molecule segment of beta-amyloid, which the body responds to by creating antibodies. These antibodies prevent the building of the proteins, much like a traditional immune response to an infection. These antibodies will then also directly target amyloid, which also indirectly inhibits the development of tau as well.
Upon completing the study and reveling at the success, senior study author Dr. Doris Lambracht-Washington remarks at the promise of this new vaccine: that it could result in reducing the number of dementia cases by as much as 50 percent!
According to UT-Southwestern, which is a leader in Alzheimer’s research, approximately 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease; and this number could double by 2050. More importantly, Alzheimer’s disease affects people around those who develop this dementia, so a vaccine that could reduce these cases can improve not only the lives of those directly affected but also those who have to find ways to care for their loved ones (or commit them to full-time care at a hospital or care facility).