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Experimental Alzheimer’s Vaccine Prevents Disease in Early Study

Brain Inflammation Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers have created a new Alzheimer’s vaccine that prevents the disease in mice brains. Credit: NIH Image Gallery / Flickr / CC-BY-NA-2.0.

A brand-new vaccine seems to halt Alzheimer’s disease in its tracks, giving hope that we might be nearing the end of this disease.

Researchers conducted a study using the vaccine on mice, and the results were remarkable. Not only did the vaccine remove harmful amyloid plaque from the brain, but it also prevented the typical behavioral changes that afflict those with Alzheimer’s.

Previously, there were two new drugs that proved their ability to slow the progression of the disease, finally bringing an end to years of unsuccessful trials and dashed hopes. However, those treatments only extended patients’ healthy lives by a few extra months.

Researchers believe that this new vaccine has the potential to go beyond its current effects and halt the progression of the disease before it reaches a point where it can no longer be stopped.

Dr. Chieh-Lun Hsiao, a cardiovascular researcher at Japan’s Juntendo, said that if the vaccine proves successful in humans, it would be a significant advancement in slowing down the disease’s progression or even preventing it altogether.

Currently, Alzheimer’s affects 6 million Americans, according to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Association.

Precisely targeting the root cause of Alzheimer’s

In this new ongoing study, researchers are testing the vaccine on mice that have been genetically modified to have mutated versions of an amyloid precursor protein inserted into their genes.

Amyloid plaques are a key characteristic of Alzheimer’s and are believed to hasten the death of brain cells. However, there is still some debate among experts about whether these plaques cause the disease or are merely a symptom of it.

The mice in the study were divided into two groups: one received the vaccine, and the other received a placebo.

The vaccine administered to the mice at two and four months old was designed to target a specific molecule called senescence-associated glycoprotein (SAGP), found on the outer membrane of damaged or ‘senescent’ cells in the brain.

By pinpointing this specific site on the cells, scientists can more precisely address the root cause of Alzheimer’s, which is the buildup of toxic plaques, rather than just treating the symptoms like cognitive decline.

Improved cognitive behavior

Once the vaccine was administered to the mice, it successfully instructed their immune system to identify SAGP on the surface of damaged cells as a harmful intruder.

When the immune system was trained to recognize SAGP, it launched an attack against these cells, effectively eliminating them.

The vaccine proved to be highly effective in reducing both SAGP and amyloid deposits in the mouse brains, particularly in the area responsible for attention and problem-solving.

Furthermore, the study demonstrated additional encouraging outcomes that indicate its potential effectiveness in humans.

When the mice were subjected to a maze-type device to assess their behavior, those who received the SAGP vaccine displayed behavior similar to that of normal healthy mice.

They also exhibited increased awareness of their surroundings, suggesting positive effects on their cognitive functions.

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