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Alzheimer’s Vaccine Slows Development of Tangles

By Stephen Luntz

Vaccine shows promise for Alzheimer's and early-onset dementia.

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A vaccine has proven effective against a neural disease in mice that is considered a model for both Alzheimer’s disease and frontal temporal dementia, the second most common form of early onset dementia.

Attempts to stop Alzheimer’s disease have focused on preventing the accumulation of amyloid betaplaques associated with the condition. Instead, A/Prof Lars Ittner of the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute has concentrated on the tau protein, which is present in both conditions and is believed to drive the formation of neurofibrillary tangles.

Ittner says the plaques were considered “more promising from an immunological point of view. It is an extracellular protein, where tau is an intracellular one,” he says. “To affect tau you have to not only pass the blood–brain barrier but also get into cells. However, there are other examples of intracellular proteins that have been targeted for vaccines, and we’re not the only ones to get it to work.” Moreover, the tau protein has the strongest correlation with the progression of both diseases.

Ittner acknowledges that animal models have limitations, particularly in this case where only one gene is involved in the mouse while several are important for humans. Nevertheless, he is buoyed by the results. “The vaccine appears to have a preventative effect – slowing the development of further...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.