New research holds promise.
A vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease may be one step closer to reality, say Swedish scientists. It is reported (June, 2012) that the new vaccine, CAD106, may prove to be a breakthrough in the search for a cure for the dreaded disease.
According to the World Health Organization, dementia or Alzheimer’s is the fastest growing global health epidemic of our time. The prevailing hypothesis about its cause involves APP (amyloid precursor protein), a protein that resides in the outer membrane of nerve cells and that, instead of being broken down, form a harmful substance called beta-amyloid, which accumulates as plaques and kills brain cells.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and the medicines in use can only ease the symptoms. In the hunt for a cure, scientists are following several avenues and a vaccine is currently the most popular direction of the ongoing research.
Earlier Vaccine Study Failed
The first human vaccination study, which was done almost a decade ago, caused too many adverse reactions and was discontinued. The vaccine used in that study activated certain white blood cells (T cells), which started to attack the body’s own brain tissue.
The new vaccine involves active immunization, using a type of vaccine designed to trigger the body’s immune defense against beta-amyloid. In this second clinical trial on humans, the vaccine was modified to affect only the harmful beta-amyloid. The researchers found that 80 per cent of the patients involved in the trials developed their own protective antibodies against beta-amyloid without suffering any side effects over the three years of the study. The researchers believe that this suggests that the CAD106 vaccine is a tolerable treatment for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Larger trials must now be conducted to confirm the CAD106 vaccine’s effectiveness.