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Vaccine for Alzheimer’s diseas

Researchers developing a vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease have shown that it seems to stop mice with the condition losing their memory. The results boost hopes that such vaccines could delay or prevent similar symptoms in people.

The vaccines reduces the build-up of protein deposits in mouse brains -the other major indicator of Alzheimer’s diseases. The pharmaceutical company Elan, based in Dublin, Ireland, is poised to begin human clinical trails of a potential treatment based on the vaccine.

Nearly one in ten people over the age of 65 suffers the dementia by Alzheimer’s disease, and the risk rises fourfold for those over 80. Several genes have been linked to the condition – particularly one that codes for a protein known as beta-amyloid peptide.

Mutations to this gene cause the protein to be over produced, forming the fibrous plagues in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and killing the nerve cells.

When Alzheimer’s mice are vaccinated with beta-amyloid peptide they develop antibodies against the protein, which sweep the brain clean of the plagues.

Mice given the test vaccine developed fewer protein deposits in their brains compared with unvaccinated animals. These results are reported in Nature.

Whether the protein deposits actually cause dementia in people is something of an open question among Alzheimer’s researchers. However, the mouse models don’t seem to show the same neural destruction suffered by human patients. But it is certainly encouraging and one can hope that some kind of human application willfollow.

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