As many drugs have been failing to treat Alzheimer’s disease in recent years, researchers are racing to find a vaccine to prevent the disease from evolving. The latest study was tested on mice genetically programmed to get Alzheimer’s disease and was successful in removing beta-amyloid plaque and tau protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease in the animals.
This vaccine study was conducted by researchers at the University of California Irvine and used an adjuvant or an immunological agent that boosts the immune response of the vaccine, formulated by Flinders University in South Australia.
“Our approach is looking to cover all bases and get past previous roadblocks in finding a therapy to slow the accumulation of amyloid beta/tau molecules and delay Alzheimer’s disease progression around the world.”– Professor Petrovsky, Flinders University
The dual vaccine strategy prevents the formation of amyloid plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles, two hallmarks associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid plaque are sticky clusters that form in spaces between nerve cells in the brain tissue.
Imaging research in recent years has proved that people can live with plaque in their brains for decades before noticing any symptom of Alzheimer’s. Neurofibrillary tangles are knots of tau protein threads within the brain tissue. Both are believed to play a significant role in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it remains unclear whether both structures cause Alzheimer’s or are a side effect of the disease.
Towards a brighter future
Researchers say the success of the animal study comes after 20 years of working on the vaccine and could pave the way for human trials to start as early as 2021. Trial centers will be in the United States but Professor Petrovsky told Australian media he hopes to make them available in Australia as well.