[NEWS 6 June] A study led by Karolinska Institutet reports for the first time the positive effects of an active vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease. The new vaccine, CAD106, can prove a breakthrough in the search for a cure for this seriously debilitating dementia disease. The study is published in the distinguished scientific journal Lancet Neurology.
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex neurological dementia disease that is the cause of much human suffering and a great cost to society. According to the World Health Organisation, dementia is the fastest growing global health epidemic of our age. 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 mitigate the symptoms. In the hunt for a cure, scientists are following several avenues of attack, of which vaccination is currently the most popular. The first human vaccination study, which was done almost a decade ago, revealed 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.