A team of American and Australian researchers has made an important breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. The scientists developed a vaccine that can possible halt and fight the disease. The medicine can possibly already be tested on humans in three to five years.
With more than 7.5 million new cases per year, there is little doubt: we badly need an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Up until now there aren't sufficient vaccines or medication available.
But a research team of various American and Australian universities has good news. In the journal Nature Scientific Reports scientists describe an important discovery, that can possibly lead to the very first vaccine against Alzheimer's disease.
Testing on people
The vaccine's formula deals with the proteins which are responsible for Alzheimer's disease. It is generally assumed that the disease is caused by an accumulation of a protein, beta-amyloid. And an excess of tau proteins is associated with the the cause of dementia in Alzheimer's patients.
The researchers developed two vaccines, which deal with both problems. "We can vaccine patients in an early stage or even healthy people with an increased risk with the first vaccine", says researcher Anahit Ghochikyan. "If the disease progresses, we use the other vaccine to increase the effectiveness."
At this stage, it is still being tested whether the vaccines are safe. If those preclinical tests are successful, the first clinical tests on humans can already be conducted in three to five years. "In three to five years, we are possibly underway to one of the most important developments in the recent medical history", the researchers claim.
In 2015, there were more than 48 million patients worldwide with dementia. Experts refer to it as an epidemic. If there isn't a treatment soon, the number of patients will only grow.
"Not only because the population is aging", researchers say, "but also because the number of cases of type 2 diabetes is rising explosively in the west." Diabetes is one of the most important risk factors for Alzheimer's disease.
The race to develop a vaccine is becoming increasingly intense. But the road to a vaccine is expensive and long. Just to illustrate: between 2002 and 2012, 244 compositions were tested at 413 clinical tests worldwide. Just one medicine, that temporarily alleviates the symptoms of Alzheimer's, was approved.