Scientists Develop Treatment and Vaccine for Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists from Germany and the U.K might have found a way to treat and develop Alzheimer’s disease. The team of researchers tested the protein-based vaccine and antibody-based treatment on mouse models. The medications reduced Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms.

Scientists did not target plaques on the brain

The hallmark for Alzheimer’s Disease is the amyloid-beta protein plaques. While most drugs focus on these plaques, the researchers from the University Medical Center Göttingen, the University of Leicester, and LifeArc, the medical research charity organization, developed the vaccine and antibody to focus on a highly toxic soluble form of the protein.

Amyloid beta-protein usually exists as a string-like, flexible molecule that can combine to create plaques and fibers. In patients with the disease, many of these become shorter. Scientists speculate that these truncated forms are the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to a study author and professor at the University Medical Center Göttingen, Thomas Bayer, medications that dissolve amyloid-beta plaques have shown minimal efficiency when lowering Alzheimer’s symptoms, with others having a harmful side effect. For this reason, the team decided to take another path. The antibody neutralizes the soluble forms of amyloid-beta protein but does not target the plaques or the normal forms.

The researchers used the antibody, which the immune system would not negatively react to. They were shocked to notice that TAP01_04, the antibody bound to the short form and the protein folding in a hairpin structure.

Mark Carr, a professor at the Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology, University of Leicester, scientists had never spotted the structure in the human body. Discovering it enabled them to create the protein region, stabilizing the hairpin structure and binding the antibody to it.

The therapy restored neuron function in mice

Researchers hope that that engineered protein could trigger the production of TAP01_04 antibodies. They gave mice the vaccine eliciting the desired response. Afterward, they tested the vaccine, TAPAS, and the humanized antibody in separate mouse models of the disease.

Results from imaging showed that the vaccine and the antibody restored neuron function, memory, raised brain glucose metabolism, and lowered plaque formation.

The scientists believe that if they can replicate the results in humans, they will create a better treatment for Alzheimer’s and even provide vaccination against the disease. They are now searching for funding for a clinical trial.

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