Alzheimer’s disease is a catastrophic and incurable illness which
affects an estimated 5.4 million adults in the United States. However,
a study from researchers at Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia) in partnership
with a research team at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and University
of California (Irvine), have developed a vaccine that could eradicate
the disease for good.
While the specific pathology of Alzheimer’s is not so clear, scientists
understand that two proteins located in the brain, amyloid-beta (a-beta)
and tau, are imperative in the development of the illness. They discovered
that when these proteins die, they can develop into plaques and block
the connections between brain nerve cells.
Autopsies that have been conducted for this research have demonstrated
that these plaques are always detectable in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s
patients; however, they are not sure if any other underlying processes
contributing to the disease as well. Nevertheless, the vaccine would essentially
address this protein buildup.
“What we have designed is a vaccine that makes the immune system
produce antibodies and those antibodies act like tow trucks so they come
to your driveway, they latch on to the breakdown protein or car and they
pull it out of the driveway,” explained Flinders University medicine
professor Nikolai Petrovsky, ABC News reported.
Animal studies of the vaccine suggest that the antibodies perform at peak
efficiency when blocking a-beta before the illness developed in the subjects.
It’s interesting to note that the antibodies work best at reversing
the buildup of tau proteins once Alzheimer’s has already progressed.
According to The Australian, the main issues surrounding the vaccine is
that it may not be strong enough to make a substantial impact in a patient’s
health compared to animals. However, if this problem can be effectively
addressed, then the vaccine could be used as preventative treatment
in as soon as five years from now and given to people who are around 50 years of age.
If you would like to schedule a tour of
our Hampton Alzheimer’s Care Center, please
contact us today to request!