An estimated 6.2 million Americans over 65 live with Alzheimer's, and by 2050, that number is predicted to grow to 12.7 million, per the Alzheimer's Association.
Alzheimer's is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that over time destroys memory and thinking skills, and in the end, the ability to carry out everyday tasks, explains the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Changes in the brain of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles lead to a loss of neurons and their connections, which in turn affect a person's ability to remember and to think. Its cause is still not fully known.
A number of different methods for reversing or slowing down Alzheimer's are being developed, including a potential vaccine against the brain disorder that just showed positive results during its Phase II clinical trial: AADvac1.
The Alzheimer's vaccine
The vaccine is being developed by Axon Neuroscience, who reported the positive, albeit still limited, results of its clinical trial in the journal Nature Aging. The potential vaccine was found safe and capable of producing an immune response against specific parts of the tau protein, whose accumulation appears to be one of the factors that can lead to Alzheimer's development, reported IFLScience.
"AADvac1 demonstrated an excellent safety profile, robust antibody response, and highly significant impact on neurodegeneration," stated Axon Neuroscience.
196 participants from around Europe with mild Alzheimer's took part in the clinical trial, where 117 of the patients received the actual vaccine doses, and the remaining 79 received a placebo. Altogether, everyone received 11 doses of either the vaccine or the placebo over the span of 24 months.
It has to be pointed out, however, that even though the randomized clinical trial's results were promising they didn't show a major impact on the cognitive decline of the patients. That said, the team points out that its vaccine did slow down the accumulation of a protein that typically is a marker of neurodegeneration.
The team reports that further tests and trials first have to take place before knowing whether or not the vaccine stops and reverses Alzheimer's, even in just a few people.
Given some 35 million people around the world live with Alzheimer's, per Axon Neuroscience, it's easy to understand why companies are working towards finding cures or treatments for the debilitating brain disorder. Earlier this month, the FDA approved the first new treatment for Alzheimer's in 20 years, and other research found that ultrasounds could help restore human memory and reverse dementia.