There is finally hope on the horizon for Alzheimer’s patients as scientists make progress on a vaccine that could prevent or even reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
This is a big deal for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and the medical community for the treatment of these diseases. The new vaccine targets tau proteins and abnormal beta-amyloid that can build up and cause Alzheimer’s.
More good news is that human trials may only be a couple of years away. "If we are successful in preclinical trials, in three to five years we could be well on the way to one of the most important developments in recent medical history,” says researcher Nikolai Petrovsky from Flinders University in Australia.
According to Petrovsky, the vaccine would work like a tow truck that removes remove proteins damaged by disease. Two separate vaccines were combined to form this new treatment.
The second vaccine, the most recent, targets tau proteins and has proved to be the most effective at reversing brain damage. The other vaccine targets beta-amyloid to prevent plaques on the brain. This vaccine is best used as a preventative measure. In previous trials conducted on mice, the vaccines have proven to be more effective when combined. This allows them to treat both the cause of dementia and what make it get worse.
"It could be used both to give people at a particular age, say 50 years of age when they are perfectly fine, to stop them developing dementia, but potentially also could be given to people at least in the early stages of dementia to actually try and reverse the process,” explains Petrovsky.
Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia and worldwide, with more than 7.5 million new cases being diagnosed each year. As the population ages and type 2 diabetes (a major risk factor) increases, there hasn’t been much good news in the field of Alzheimer’s research.
Hundreds of compounds have been tested in an effort to stop dementia but less than one percent have shown to have any effect on the disease.
To increase success rates, a state of the art vaccine platform called MultiTEP was created to target proteins in the brain that cause dementia. Scientists from Finders University have teamed with University of California, Irvine (UCI) and the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) on the new treatment.
MultiTEP-designed antibodies bind strongly to their targets and have avoided creating potentially harmful responses from the body's immune system, according to IMM’s Michael Agadjanyan.
It will be many years before we know for sure if these vaccines will be effective in humans, but there’s plenty of reason to be excited about a possible treatment that can stop this disease that has become a growing problem.