A Giant Leap for Alzheimer's Research

Swedish Scientists Develop a Promising Vaccine

Written by Brianna Panzica
Posted June 12, 2012

The World Health Organization has called dementia “a public health priority,” one that is currently affecting 35.6 million people across the globe. And there are no cures for this debilitating disease, only medicines to ease the symptoms or provide comfort.

But a group of Swedish scientists have come closer than ever to a cure for Alzheimer's after the success of their new vaccine in clinical trials.

The report, published in scientific journal Lancet Neurology, details the success of CAD106, a vaccine that boosts a patient's immune response to target an Alzheimer's-inducing protein.

Alzheimer's is believed to be a result of the formation of beta-amyloid, which is created when amyloid precursor protein (APP), a protein on the outer part of nerve cells, fails to break down. This beta-amyloid then builds up as plaque in the brain and destroys brain cells.

CAD106, the new vaccine, counteracts this buildup by sending the body's immune response into action to target beta-amyloid. But it also controls the response by making sure only harmful beta-amyloid is targeted.

The three-year human trials used test subjects between the ages of 50 and 80. Of those involved in the trials, 80% began producing their own antibodies against beta-amyloid.

The vaccine had no related side effects over the three years of the trial.

CAD106 is not quite an Alzheimer's cure, though it is a significant breakthrough. The vaccine is believed to be able to delay the onset of symptoms for five years and to be a viable option for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. As Dr. Simon Ridley, the Head of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK, told the Daily Mail:

“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 only other vaccine for Alzheimer's entered clinical trials roughly ten years ago. The effects, however, were negative, as the drug activated T-cells in the blood that attacked the brain cells.

Scientists involved in the trials, led by Professor Bengt Winblad of the Karolinska Institutet's Alzheimer's Disease Research Centre in Huddinge, Sweden, would like to move on to larger scale testing to further examine the effects and effectiveness of CAD106.

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