PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A vaccine that could protect against Alzheimer’s disease may be heading for clinical trials.
“I really wanted to take this as a challenge to see if we could develop any sort of treatment,” says Kiran Bhaskar, an associate professor at the University of New Mexico.
The vaccine targets a specific protein commonly found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
“What we chose to pursue was a specific region of tau, as you saw pathological tau — the red structures — that are common in Alzheimer’s disease. We wanted to make a vaccine against that,” says Nicole Maphis, a Ph.D. student at the University of New Mexico.
Antibodies form against tau, and in the University of New Mexico’s studies of mice with Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers claim the protein clears. Because the brain has protective mechanisms to keep circulating proteins, like antibodies, out, this is a challenge.
“These antibodies seem to have cleared pathological tau,” Maphis continues.
When it comes to maze-like tests, the mice that were immunized did better than those that weren’t.
But before it can be tested in humans, the researchers need a few more years and a few billion dollars to develop a clinical-grade injection.
“We got to make sure that we have a clinical version of the vaccine so that we can test in people,” says Bhaskar.