Researchers create experimental vaccine against Alzheimer's

October 8, 2010, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have created an experimental vaccine against beta-amyloid, the small protein that forms plaques in the brain and is believed to contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Compared with similar so-called DNA vaccines that the UT Southwestern researchers tested in an animal study, the new stimulated more than 10 times as many that bind to and eliminate beta-amyloid. The results appeared in the journal Vaccine.

Future studies will focus on determining the safety of the vaccine and whether it protects mental function in animals, said Dr. Roger Rosenberg, director of the Center at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study.

"The antibody is specific; it binds to plaque in the brain. It doesn't bind to that does not contain ," Dr. Rosenberg said. "This approach shows promise in generating enough antibodies to be useful clinically in treating patients."

A traditional vaccine – an injection of beta-amyloid itself into the arm – has been shown in other research to trigger an immune response, including the production of antibodies and other bodily defenses against beta-amyloid. However, the immune response to this type of vaccine sometimes caused significant brain swelling, so Dr. Rosenberg and his colleagues focused on developing a nontraditional DNA vaccine.

The DNA vaccine does not contain beta-amyloid itself but instead a piece of the beta-amyloid gene that codes for the protein. In the current study, the researchers coated tiny gold beads with the beta-amyloid DNA and injected them into the skin of the animals' ears. Once in the body, the DNA stimulated an immune response, including antibodies to beta-amyloid.

The next step in the research is to test long-term safety in animals, Dr. Rosenberg said.

"After seven years developing this vaccine, we are hopeful it will not show any significant toxicity, and that we will be able to develop it for human use," he said.

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4 comments

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axemaster
not rated yet Oct 08, 2010
Uh, having the immune system attack brain cells and structures in the brain, be they harmful or not, sounds risky to me... Then again I don't know much about the subject, so...

Good luck to the researchers!
hypermach
not rated yet Oct 08, 2010
I would volunteer in a heartbeat
DaffyDuck
5 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2010
Trials of drugs designed to target and clear amyloid plaques haven't worked well so I kind of doubt this will either. I saw a recent study showing that brain cells create amyloid to get rid of oxidative iron but fail to do so because excess zinc blocks the action so the cells keep pumping out amyloid. Another study showed that Alzheimer's patients have high levels of iron in the brain. Not sure if iron is the main cause of cell death in the brain but it seems plausible if in fact iron is the main reason for the creation of amyloid proteins then it stands to reason that oxidative iron is unwanted.
tkjtkj
not rated yet Oct 10, 2010
Trials of drugs designed to target and clear amyloid plaques haven't worked well so I kind of doubt this will either.


Your logic would be a tremendous force to cease all research unless it's known that the result of the research will be successful!
My, my. Let me assure you that oftentimes research fails to show a benefit to society merely because the particular study did not address a previously-unrecognized feature of the problem at hand. Even an issue concerning the species of the test animals could be crucially important. Mice are not people, and white mice are not black mice.

j.a., md

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