A New Vaccine Could Bring Us One Step Closer to Treating Alzheimers

Scientists at UT Southwestern have created a vaccine that reduces the number of toxic proteins that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The treatment avoids side effects caused by similar treatments, and the research may lead to a clinical trial.

Nearly 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, with that number expected to double by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no effective treatment for the disease, though treatments such as this are moving research closer.

The new technique employs a DNA vaccine, where DNA is genetically engineered to produce a response to disease, which is applied to the skin. While still only tested on animals, the vaccine reduces swelling in the brain that occurred with previous treatments. It protects the brain from proteins that kill brain cells and spread on the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Dr. Roger Rosenberg, founding Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UT Southwestern, believes the proteins targeted in the vaccine may be the cause of the debilitating brain disease, and the treatment may delay Alzheimers and reduce the number of cases. The study was performed by the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and is published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy.

“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,” said Rosenberg via statement. “I believe we’re getting close to testing this therapy in people.”