Recent medical research suggests that a vaccine and treatment for the dreaded disease of Alzheimer’s may not be far off.
The study, which involved research in mice, was conducted by researchers from the University of Leicester, the University Medical Center Gottingen, and LifeArc, a medical research charity.
Its findings suggest that an antibody treatment and protein vaccine were effective in reducing symptoms of Alzheimer’s in mice.
Both the experimental vaccine and treatment were developed with a new approach to fighting against Alzheimer’s.
Experimental Alzheimer’s vaccine and treatment target shortened protein
Most Alzheimer’s research is conducted on targeting amyloid beta protein buildup in the brain, which is linked to the disease. The protein exists naturally in the brain, but build up of the substance in the form of plaque is believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s.
The new treatment and vaccine target the amyloid beta protein in a different way than most other experimental treatments for the disease.
Researchers found that, amongst a high number of those with Alzheimer’s, the naturally-occurring amyloid beta protein molecules have become shortened.
They believe that this may be an important aspect of the disease.
“In clinical trials, none of the potential treatments which dissolve amyloid plaques in the brain have shown much success in terms of reducing Alzheimer’s symptoms. Some have even shown negative side effects. So we decided on a different approach,” said Professor Thomas Bayer from the University Medical Center at Göttingen.
“We identified an antibody in mice that would neutralize the truncated forms of soluble amyloid beta, but would not bind either to normal forms of the protein or to the plaques,” he continued.
Scientists created antibody for the disease
Scientists then isolated and adapted the antibody found in mice so that the human immune system would not reject it as a foreign body. This antibody, called TAP01_04, proved to be very effective in experimental vaccines and treatments.
Scientists found that mice who had been given either the vaccine or treatment with the anitbody had improved neural function.
According to the study, which was published in the journal “Molecular Psychiatry,” the experimental treatment and vaccine also helped treat memory loss and increase glucose metabolism in the brain.
While the results of the groundbreaking trial have provided many researchers, caregivers, and patients with the disease with hope for potential treatments, research is still in very early stages.
If similar results were recorded in a human trial, the medical community could be one step closer to treating and preventing Alzheimer’s.
The experimental treatment and vaccine “open up the possibility to not only treat Alzheimer’s once symptoms are detected, but also to potentially vaccinate against the disease before symptoms appear,” says Professor Mark Carr from Leicester University.