Researchers at the Bryd Alzheimer’s Institute have developed a vaccine which reverses cognitive impairment in mice with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
A paper published online in the journal Neurobiology of Disease describes how the vaccine was developed. The researchers first took T-cells (white blood cells involved in the immune response) and exposed them to beta-amyloid, the malformed protein which accumulates to form the plaques which are a characteristic AD pathology.The beta-amyloid sensitized T-cells were then injected into transgenic mice with AD-like pathology, and it was shown that there were improvements in the memory of the mice. This reversal of cognitive impairment was shown to be effective for two-and-a-half months.
The Byrd Institute researchers are now planning to conduct clinical trials of their vaccine.
“Theoretically, white blood cells could be withdrawn from an Alzheimer’s patient or individuals with the same blood type, the white blood cells could then be sensitized to beta-amyloid, then returned to the patient on a relatively infrequent basis,” says Dr. Gary Arendash, one of the authors of the paper.
Although the vaccine is unlikely to “cure” AD, it could well slow down its progression, giving patients a better prognosis.