ADELAIDE, Australia — As modern medicine continues to improve and advance at an increasingly rapid rate, people all over the world are enjoying longer lifespans, on average, than ever before. Consequently, age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are becoming common diagnoses in older adults. For example, in the United States alone Alzheimer’s is estimated to affect 5.7 million people. Now, it appears help may soon be on the way in the form of a potential new vaccine that has shown success in mice testing.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine believe that this immunotherapy combination vaccine should be ready for human trials within the next few years. The initial version of the vaccine was created by Flinders University professor Nikolai Petrovsky in South Australia, and it works by removing “brain plaque” and tau protein aggregates, both of which have been extensively linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Success in 2019 with mice models has opened the door towards more extensive research and development in 2020, researchers say.
If the vaccine can in fact remove accumulated beta-amyloid (Aβ) plaques and tau protein aggregates from human subjects brains, just as it was able to in mice that had already shown signs of Aβ and tau pathologies, that should, in theory, stop the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Taken together, these findings warrant further development of this dual vaccination strategy … for ultimate testing in human Alzheimer’s disease,” the study reads.
According to professor Petrovsky, researchers are hopeful they can proceed with human clinical trials in about two years.
“Our approach is looking to cover all bases and get past previous roadblocks in finding a therapy to slow the accumulation of Aβ/tau molecules and delay AD progression in a the rising number of people around the world,” professor Petrovsky explains in a media release.
This isn’t the first time a possible preventative drug for Alzheimer’s has shown promise, but every one of these drugs has ultimately faltered when it came time for human trials. With this in mind, the research team say they are determined and motivated to establish a successful vaccine that can, at the very least, delay and slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s.
The study is published in the scientific journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.