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Alzheimer's Vaccine is on its Way

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Up to this point, scientists have been unsuccessful in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's, a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental function. So unsuccessful in fact that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have increased their funding for Alzheimer's research by $350 million, bringing the total to $1.3 billion for the year. And as it happens, this increased funding is turning out to be money well-spent. In a recent study by Professor Nikolai Petrovsky and colleagues, a vaccine combo has generated antibodies that target two hallmarks of Alzheimer's: beta-amyloid and tau proteins. These proteins form nerve-cell blockages, known as plaques and tangles respectively, which are the prime suspects in nerve cell death. Like food caught in a straw, beta-amyloid and tau proteins must be removed from the brain to allow signals to flow freely through the nerve cells. The vaccine combination from Prof. Petrovsky has been successfully and safely tested in mouse models, and has also proven to successfully target beta-amyloid and tau proteins in human brain tissue. The results of this study suggest that the vaccine could be used to immunize patients at early stages of Alzheimer's, as well as those at risk for the disease. With more tests and preclinical trials to come, the team hopes to begin testing the vaccine in individuals at high risk for Alzheimer's or those in early stages of the disease within the next 3-5 years.
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