An experimental Alzheimer's disease vaccine that could reduce the number of new cases of dementia by half is on the horizon.
Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center reported that the vaccine, which has recently come out of animal testing, has shown promising results. They hope that it will soon continue to clinical trials.
According to a paper published by the journal BMC, the vaccine reduced the buildup of the proteins amyloid and tau, the substances associated with Alzheimer's disease, in monkeys and rabbits. It works by telling the body to produce more antibodies that attack Alzheimer's plaques before they begin to destroy the brain.
If the vaccine could be proven safe and effective in humans, researchers claimed it could significantly reduce the number of people diagnosed with dementia and delay the effects of the degenerative disease by five years.
"If the onset of the disease could be delayed by even five years, that would be enormous for the patients and their families," stated Doris Lambracht-Washington, a professor of neurology and neurotherapeutics and a co-author of the paper. "The number of dementia cases could drop by half."
There had been previous attempts to develop a vaccine for Alzheimer's, a disease that affects millions around the world. However, the vaccines often have serious side effects such as inflammation of the brain, and not as effective.
This new experimental vaccine from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is only one of the promising treatments that are currently in development aimed to address Alzheimer's disease. There is currently no cure for patients diagnosed with this degenerative disease. Only symptomatic treatment options are available to those who are affected.
Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, a term that is used to describe symptoms of cognitive decline. In the United States, more than 5 million people have been diagnosed with the disease in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By 2060, the public health agency predicts that the number of people with Alzheimer's in the United States would double to nearly 14 million.
Age is a risk factor for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. The most common symptom is memory loss, which becomes progressively worse until the patient loses the ability to carry on conversations or respond to the environment.