Tel Aviv University researchers are working on a nasally delivered vaccine that promises to protect against Alzheimer's as well as stroke.
The new vaccine repairs vascular damage in the brain by using the body's own immune system and, in addition to its prophylactic effect, it can work even when Alzheimer's symptoms are already present.
"Using part of a drug that was previously tested as an influenza drug, we've managed to successfully induce an immune response against amyloid proteins in the blood vessels," said Dan Frenkel, who collaborated on this project with Prof. Howard L. Weiner of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
"In early pre-clinical studies, we've found it can prevent both brain tissue damage and restore cognitive impairment," he added.
Modifying a vaccine technology owned by Glaxo Smith Kline, Tel Aviv University's new therapeutic approach activates a natural mechanism in our bodies that fights against vascular damage in the brain.
The vaccine activates macrophages - large proteins in the body that swallow foreign antigens -clearing away the accumulation of waxy amyloid proteins in the brain's vascular system.
Mice models showed that once these proteins are cleared from the brain, further damage can be prevented, and existing damage due to a previous stroke can be repaired.
"We've found a way to use the immune response stimulated by this drug to prevent hemorrhagic strokes, which lead to permanent brain damage," said Frenkel.
So far, the vaccine has shown no signs of toxicity in animal models.
The study has been published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.