With repeated drug failures to treat Alzheimer’s disease in recent years, scientists are racing to find a vaccine to prevent the disease from evolving. The latest study was tested on mice genetically programmed to get Alzheimer’s disease and was successful in removing beta-amyloid plaque and tau protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease in the animals.
The pharmaceutical industry has been on a 30 year mission to develop a drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The culprits behind the disease, they thought, were the amyloid plaques that build up in the brains of these patients. For many decades removing these plaques to treat Alzheimer’s was the goal.
But then drug after drug targeting amyloid failed to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s—the so-called “amyloid hypothesis” wasn’t bearing out. But drug companies kept developing and testing drugs that attacked amyloid from every angle—perhaps at the expense of pursuing other avenues of treatment.
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96 percent of patients responded to the drug and showed improved cognition and a lower level of beta-amyloid, the toxic plaque that accumulates in Alzheimer’s patients and the target of the vaccine.
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“But no drug for the foreseeable future does not mean there’s nothing to do. There is some indication that healthy lifestyle efforts may prevent Alzheimer’s. And even if they don’t, they’re likely effective in preventing vascular dementia, which is almost as common.”