Major Breakthrough in Vaccine For Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Major Breakthrough in Vaccine For Alzheimer’s Disease

A team of researchers led by an Indian-American scientist are working on a vaccine they hope could prevent Alzheimer's disease by targeting a specific protein commonly found in the brains of patients affected by the neurodegenerative disorder, according to a media report.

Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 43 million people worldwide.

This team of doctors was led by an Indian-American scientist, Dr Kiran Bhaskar. He is an associate professor at the University’s department of molecular genetics and microbiology.

The Research

The team of doctors has made a vaccine that uses virus-like particles to attack the “tau tangles” in mice.

Tau is a protein that works as a stabilizing structure inside the neurons. But when this protein occurs in tangled forms in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, it can disrupt the ability of the neurons to communicate with one another in the brain.

The scientists found that when the newly discovered vaccines were given to the mice with Alzheimer’s disease, they created antibodies that cleared the tau protein in their brain. This response in them lasted for a month.

They also found that the animals who were vaccinated showed less brain shrinkage which meant that less neurons were dying.

The team found that the tangles between the cortex and the hippocampus had decreased. These to parts of the brain are responsible for the memory and learning and are usually destroyed in the patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Also Read : New type of Dementia Identified, Symptoms Similar to Alzheimer’s

Bhaskar, who's been passionate about studying the disease for the last decade, says the work started with an idea in 2013.

I would say it took about five years or so to get from where the idea generated and get the fully functioning working vaccine. 
Dr Kiran Bhaskar

"We used a group of mice that have Alzheimer's disease, and we injected them over a series of injections," said PhD student Nicole Maphis.

She said the vaccine targets a specific protein known as tau that's commonly found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

"These antibodies seem to have cleared (out) pathological tau. Pathological tau is one of the components of these tangles that we find in the brains of patients with Alzheimers disease," she explained. The response lasted for months, according to UNM.

A member of the team said that they were happy with the findings because now human body’s own immune system could be used to make antibodies and clear the tangles.

The head doctor is still skeptical about the launch of the vaccine in the market. He believes that they would require at least five years and a billion dollars to launch the vaccine officially in the market.

This new discovery is a revolutionary step towards the treatment of the Alzheimer’s disease.

Also Read : Virtual Reality (VR) Test May Identify Alzheimer’s More Accurately

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia. It causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.

Memory loss is the key symptom of this disease. An early sign of the disease is usually difficulty in remembering recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, remembering things becomes more difficult and more symptoms start showing up.

(With inputs from PTI)

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