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New Vaccine May Reverse, Prevent Dementia And Alzheimer's Disease

First Posted: Jul 18, 2016 06:55 AM EDT

Scientists in the US and Australia are now testing a new vaccine that can supposedly prevent and in some cases, reverse the onset of dementia, Alzheimer's, and other diseases related to it.

According to Science Alert, this could be considered a big break in the treatment of these diseases, with the new drug having the capability to specifically target the tau protein and abnormal beta-amyloid that can accumulate and cause Alzheimer's. The clinical trials in humans are expected to start within two years and will most likely last for 3 years, said researcher Nikolai Petrovsky from Flinders University in Australia.

The disease has already affected 5.4 million American adults. Statistics say that is approximately one person from the United States who develops the disease every 67 seconds. The World Health Organization (WHO) also said that there are 7.7 million new dementia cases every year. The total global societal cost of the disease and care is annually projected at US$600 billion.

Hngn.com said that experts aim to target proteins in the brain that are responsible for putting blocks on neurons. The tau proteins and abnormal beta-amyloid that can cause dementia and Alzheimer's can be removed. Experts said that the first protein to mess up is a beta, but removing the second protein, tau, can help reverse the disease.

"Interestingly the second protein, which has been found more recently, which we are targeting ... it turns out if you target tau with the vaccine you can actually reverse the disease even once it has developed," said Petrovsky. Hence, the experts are targeting both proteins.

Meanwhile, according to Inquitr.com, initial human trials will focus more on patients who are already suffering from the early onset of the neurological disease to determine the effectivity of the drug in slowing or reversing the effects of the disease. Though the same vaccine can potentially prevent Alzheimer's disease, trials that will involve healthy individuals will be more complicated and could take much longer.

"To show our vaccine works in healthy individuals who have not yet developed Alzheimer will take a lot more time, as it could involve having to immunize hundreds of thousands of subjects and then follow them long term to see we have prevented them getting Alzheimer's," Petrovsky said. "Such a trial may last 10 to 15 years and will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars."

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