There is an alarming number of 5.7 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s today. And by 2050, it is predicted to affect about 14 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
A team of medical researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas has successfully developed an experimental vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease. This has been reported in the Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, a monthly journal on the degenerative disease.
The vaccine brings hope to the medical community after yielding positive results from the recently-concluded animal trials. After having tests in mice, the vaccine is found to be safe and harmless. It prevents the build-up of substances in the brain that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Similar tests were also done in rabbits and monkeys.
“This study is the culmination of a decade of research that has repeatedly demonstrated that this vaccine can effectively and safely target in animal models what we think may cause Alzheimer’s disease,” stated Dr. Richard Rosenberg, co-author of the study.
The vaccine is the first of its kind to stop the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It releases antibodies that will block the build-up of proteins beta-amyloid and tau. These two proteins are found in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s. The build-up of these proteins prevents the brain from functioning normally.
Following the animal trials, researchers said that the vaccine has reduced about 40 per cent of beta-amyloid proteins. There was also a significant decrease of 50 per cent in tau. A decrease in the number of these proteins would mean a delay in the development of the Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Doris Lambracht-Washington, senior author of the study, said that the vaccine would delay the development of Alzheimer’s in an individual.
“If the onset of the disease could be delayed by even five years, that would be enormous for the patients and their families,” asserted Dr. Lambracht-Washington.
With the animal testing, not only is the vaccine proven effective, but it was also proven safe. No harmful effects were noted from the vaccine, compared to the previous attempts in developing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
In the early 2000s, a vaccine was formulated by researchers to treat Alzheimer’s. However, after testing the vaccine to humans, it resulted in negative results. The vaccine had harmful side effects. In the human testing done, about six per cent of participants suffered an inflammation in the brain.
Other attempts did not provide long-lasting solution as well. The treatments introduced before were less effective. They did not completely stop the progression of Alzheimer’s.
But with the groundbreaking vaccine created by the researchers of the University of Texas, a long-term treatment for Alzheimer’s is on its way. It promises to put a stop on the progression of the disease. This would also mean curbing the deaths of people suffering from Alzheimer’s.
The vaccine is set to have human trials within the next three to five years. Should it be a success, scientists say that the development of the said vaccine will reduce the number of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in half.
(Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not to be treated as a professional opinion or diagnosis.)