Health Watch - Alzheimer's Disease: Vaccine

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about Alzheimer’s disease. Previously, we discussed a test for the disease. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could be vaccinated against it? Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center may be on track toward developing a vaccine.

The damage from Alzheimer’s disease is largely caused by plaques of protein that build up in the brain. Researchers have tried vaccinating against that protein, but the vaccination tends to lead to brain swelling. UT Southwestern researchers took a different approach, creating a genetic vaccine using a piece of the gene that codes for the protein rather than the protein itself.

Dr. Roger Rosenberg, director of UT Southwestern’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center, says the antibodies triggered by this vaccine are very specific, binding only to the harmful plaque in the brain, not to brain tissue. This approach has shown promise in laboratory studies. The next step is to make sure the vaccine is safe and to see if it affects brain function.

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November 2010


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