Researchers Led by Indian American Scientist Test Vaccine That Could Prevent Alzheimer'sVaccination & Immunization

June 12, 2019 10:00
Researchers Led by Indian American Scientist Test Vaccine That Could Prevent Alzheimer's

(Image source from: Albuquerque)

A team of researchers led by an IndianAmerican scientist are working on a vaccine they hope could prevent Alzheimer's disease by targeting a specific protein commonly found in the brains of patients affected by the neurodegenerative disorder, according to a media report.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and die. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that disrupts a person's ability to function independently.

Researchers at the University of New Mexico led by Dr. Kiran Bhaskar, associate professor in the varsity's Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, have started to test the vaccine on mice. It has not yet been shown if it works in people, CBS News reported.

Bhaskar has been very keen on studying the disease for the last decade. He said the work started with an idea in 2013. "I would say it took about five years or so to get from where the idea generated and get the fully functioning working vaccine," he said.

"We used a group of mice that have Alzheimer's disease, and we injected them over a series of injections," said Ph.D. student Nicole Maphis. She said the vaccine aims at a specific protein known as tau that's usually found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

"These antibodies seem to have cleared (out) pathological tau. Pathological tau is one of the components of these tangles that we find in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease," she explained. The response lasted for months, according to UNM.

Those long tangles "disrupt the ability of neurons to communicate with one another," the school points out, adding that tau is "normally a stabilizing structure inside of neurons."

The mice were then given a string of maze-like tests. The mice that received the vaccine brought about a lot better than those that hadn't.

However, drugs that appear to work in mice do not every time have the same effect in humans. A clinical trial involving people will be required to see if the drug helps in reality, and that's a difficult and expensive undertaking with no guarantee of success.

"We have to make sure that we have a clinical version of the vaccine so that we can test in people," Bhaskar said.

Just testing a small group would cost the UNM Health Sciences Department $2 million. Currently, Bhaskar and Maphis are looking for partnerships to help them toward a clinical-grade vaccine.

The university said Alzheimer's affects almost a third of senior citizens and "is on the rise, currently affecting 43 million people worldwide.”

By Sowmya Sangam

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