A new vaccine that targets inflamed brain cells linked with Alzheimer’s disease may hold the key to potentially preventing the neurological condition, scientists say.
The yet-to-be peer-reviewed research, presented at the American Heart Association’s Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Scientific Sessions 2023 in Boston, tested the vaccine in mice to target cells producing proteins linked to aging in mice brains.
In the new study, researchers developed an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model that mimics a human brain and simulates the Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
They tested the new vaccine to target SAGP-overexpressed brain cells to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers treated mice with either a control vaccine or the SAGP vaccine at two-and-four-months old.
People in late stage Alzheimer’s lack anxiety as they are not aware of the things around them, but the mice in the study who received the vaccine had anxiety.
This suggests that the rodents were more cautious and more aware of things around them, indicating a lessening of the disease.
The levels of several molecules indicating inflammation, which are characteristic signs of Alzheimer’s disease, were also reduced following application of the vaccine, scientists say.
“Our study’s novel vaccine test in mice points to a potential way to prevent or modify the disease. The future challenge will be to achieve similar results in humans,” study lead study author Chieh-Lun Hsiao said.
“If the vaccine could prove to be successful in humans, it would be a big step forward towards delaying disease progression or even prevention of this disease,” Dr Hsiao said.
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of brain proteins called amyloid beta peptides, clumping together to form plaques that collect between neurons and disrupt cell function.
Researchers found that the new vaccine significantly reduced amyloid deposits in the brain cerebral cortex brain region, which is responsible for language processing, attention and problem solving.
In maze tests, scientists also found that the mice treated with the vaccine tended to behave like normal healthy ones, exhibiting more awareness of their surroundings.
“Earlier studies using different vaccines to treat Alzheimer’s disease in mouse models have been successful in reducing amyloid plaque deposits and inflammatory factors, however, what makes our study different is that our SAGP vaccine also altered the behavior of these mice for the better,” Dr Hsiao said.