A breakthrough vaccine developed by researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide shows promise that it could prevent or even reverse the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.
Alzheimer's and dementia cause beta-amyloid and tau proteins to degenerate. The vaccine targets two proteins that trigger Alzheimer's disease. It causes the immune system to produce antibodies, which work to target the broken proteins. The vaccine could be developed in three to five years if the human clinical trials are successful.
‘The vaccine causes the immune system to produce antibodies to target abnormal beta-amyloid and tau proteins that trigger Alzheimer’s disease.’
Nikolai Petrovsky, Medicine Professor at Flinders University said that the breakthrough was so significant, there was confidence it would eventually be used as a preventive vaccine, much like a flu shot, that could eradicate dementia.
"You could actually give it to everyone, say when they turn 50, a bit like we give all high-risk groups a flu shot, and thereby stop it in its tracks. You can immunize for it before it even starts," he said.
"There was also potential to use it to reverse some of the late symptoms of the disease," he added. Clinical trials of the vaccine will begin in the next couple of years.
According to the World Health Organization, about 750 million new cases of Alzheimer's are diagnosed each year. The global societal cost of dementia-related illnesses and care are more than $US600 billion a year.
The research is published in the Nature's Scientific Reports.