A vaccine for Alzheimer’s could be trialed in humans within the next 3-5 years, after researchers from the United States and Australia uncovered a formulation that they say successfully targets brain proteins which play a role in development and progression of the disease.
Study co-author Prof. Nikolai Petrovsky, of Flinders University School of Medicine in Australia, and colleagues reveal how a vaccine combination generates antibodies that target beta-amyloid and tau proteins in the brain – both of which are considered hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Beta-amyloid is known to accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, forming plaques, while the tau protein forms tangles. Plaques and tangles are believed to disrupt signaling between nerve cells and contribute to nerve cell death.
Petrovsky explained to ABC Adelaide: “Essentially what happens in people who get Alzheimer’s or dementia is they have lots of these broken down proteins in the brain.”
Reporting in the journal Scientific Reports, the team describes how the vaccine formulation has proven safe and effective in mouse models of Alzheimer’s, and it has also successfully targeted beta-amyloid and tau proteins in human brain tissue.
Researchers have spent decades searching for ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, but success has been limited. According to Petrovsky the vaccine is comprised of a MultiTEP vaccine platform and Advax.
“This study suggests that we can immunize patients at the early stages of AD [Alzheimer’s disease], or even healthy people at risk for AD, using our anti-amyloid-beta vaccine, and, if the disease progresses, then vaccinate with another anti-tau vaccine to increase effectiveness.”