Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an Alzheimer’s vaccine? Everyone could take the shot (or two or three) and never have to worry about this dreadful disease again. The numbers for Alzheimer’s look worse every year. We see more and more residents with Alzheimer’s in our assisted living and memory care homes in Mesa, Goodyear and Surprise Arizona.
There is good news. There are several versions of an Alzheimer’s vaccine in clinical trials. Some seem very promising. Unfortunately these vaccines may not be able to help those who already have Alzheimer’s. However, the Alzheimer’s vaccine may be able to prevent younger people from contracting the disease.
Three Approaches to an Alzheimer’s Vaccine
Pharmaceutical companies are trying to develop an Alzheimer’s vaccine that targets three different issues:
1. Beta-Amyloid Plaques – Beta-Amyloid is a naturally-occurring protein in the human body. This protein collects in large clumps in the Alzheimer’s brain. It disrupts communications between neurons essential to performing basic functions. It starts in the memory areas such as the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. Vaccines that target Beta-Amyloid include Vaxxinity’s UB-311, Araclon Biotech’s ABvac 40, and ACI-24 from AC Immune.
2. Neurofibrallary (Tau) Tangles – Like Beta-Amyloid, there’s another protein called Tau. Tau accumulates between neurons in excessive amounts in Alzheimer’s patients. Then these proteins form threads that block the neuron’s transport system and inhibit communication between neurons. AC Immune’s ACI 35.030 and Axon Neuroscience’s AADvac1 show promise to reduce these Tau proteins.
3. Immune System Alzheimer’s Vaccines – The third type of vaccine does not target a protein directly. It acts more like a regular vaccine. The vaccine teaches the immune system to target Tau and Beta-Amyloid on it’s own. Vaccines in this category include GemVax and KAEL Bio’s GV1001, the first nasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s Protollin, and Bacillus Calmette-Guerin or BCG. BCG has been around for many years as a vaccine for tuberculosis. But now it shows promise to reduce Alzheimer’s risk.
Alzheimer’s Vaccine – Still in Clinical Trials
Most of these vaccines are not available to the public yet. Some show promise in helping to slow down or prevent the disease if taken early enough. This is good news to the large population of seniors throughout Phoenix and the rest of Arizona. However, there are some scientists that also believe that the Amyloid-Beta and Tau proteins are the natural response to other issues. Those issues may be the root cause of Alzheimer’s. As always we need more research to win this battle.