Groundbreaking Alzheimer's vaccine could cut cases by half and be first step towards finding cureJab creates antibodies and has few side effects
Dementia affects 820,000 people in the UK
10:02 GMT, 8 June 2012
A groundbreaking vaccine that could cut cases of Alzheimer's disease by half has been discovered.
The jab developed by scientists in Sweden could delay the onset of the debilitating illness and be the first step towards finding a cure.
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and attacks nerves, brain cells and neurotransmitters that carry messages to and from the brain.
New hope: The jab could delay the onset of the debilitating illness and be the first step towards finding a cure (picture posed by model)
The vaccine, known as CAD10, helps patients create protective antibodies to defend against deposits that develop in the brain of sufferers.
Researchers from Karolinska Institute in Sweden and from the Swedish Brain Power Network claimed in the Lancet Neurology journal that their discovery could help people with mild to moderate versions of Alzheimer's.
They found no serious side effects during the tests, which took place over three years on people aged between 50 and 80.
One in 14 people over 65 years old is affected by the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.
The risks increase with age, with around one in six people over 80 years old developing the condition.
Scientists hope CAD106 can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by five years.
Campaigner: Sci-fi author Terry Pratchett suffers from Alzheimer's and has fronted TV documentaries on the subject
According to the World Health
Organisation, dementia is currently the fastest growing global health
epidemic. In the UK, 820,000 people have a form of dementia with more than half suffering from Alzheimer’s. The figure is set to rise to a million in less than 10 years.
Alzheimer's may be caused by a 'perfect storm' of minor gene alterations, new research shows.
A number of inactive or over-active genes – rather than individual severe mutations – may be the origin of neurodegenerative disorders, according to a report in journal PLoS Genetics.
Every healthy person has gene varients which express themselves in slightly different ways.
On their own they have a modest effect, but taken together can lead to problems, said Dr Nilufer Ertekin-Taner, of Florida's Mayo clinic.
She added: 'If we can identify the genes linked to a disease that are too active or too dormant, we might be able to define new drug targets and therapies.'
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: 'Already half a million people in the UK are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and we urgently need new treatments that can offer hope for the future.
'For the best chance of success, we need to see many more treatments being trialled in this way, and that means a huge investment in research.
'Long-term, larger scale trials of CAD106 will determine whether it can help people’s memory and thinking skills, as well as reducing the amount of amyloid in the brain.
'Amyloid begins to build in the brain long before symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear, and it’s likely that any new treatment will be most effective when given in the early stages of the disease.'
The researchers found 74 per cent of the people taking CAD106 had increased levels of antibodies in their blood after having the vaccine, suggesting that the vaccine had triggered their immunity.
The authors called it a 'promising option in the treatment of mild-to-moderate
In an accompanying article, Thomas
Wisniewski from the New York School of Medicine wrote: 'Development of an
immunotherapy that can delay Alzheimer’s disease onset by five years
would reduce the prevalence of the disease by half.
'This new vaccine comes as a promising addition to what will probably be a long road to the ultimate successful immunotherapy.'