Alzheimer's disease is an illness of the brain that causes memory loss and other losses in cognitive function, as well as being responsible for over half of all dementia cases. Because there isn't a cure or treatment that can reverse the deterioration of mental function due to Alzheimer's, prevention is often people's best hope of not getting the disease. And now, researchers at the University of New Mexico are working on a preventative treatment in an unlikely form: a vaccine.
While usually vaccines target illnesses that are caused by invasive microorganisms like bacteria and viruses, this one actually targets a protein that is often found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, reported KRQE, an affiliate of CBS. The protein, called "pathological tau," was successfully cleared by the antibodies in the vaccine when tested on mice with Alzheimer's.
To test the effectiveness of pathological tau's removal, the researchers put the mice through a series of "maze-like tests," in which the mice that received the vaccine did reliably better than those that didn't. But of course, there's still a long road between testing a vaccine on mice and getting it ready for humans.
The researchers, Kiran Bhaskar and Nicole Maphis, still need to secure funding in order to create a vaccine that could be tested in humans. And once that's complete, the FDA approval process could take an additional 5 years. But they're still pleased with the results of their initial study: "I really wanted to take this as a challenge," said Bhaskar, who has been working towards an Alzheimer's cure since 2013.
Read more at KRQE.