Variety

A shot to reverse Alzheimer's soon

Press Trust of India London | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on April 23, 2011




A jab that can halt the onslaught of Alzheimer's disease may be available in just two years, as scientists have developed a new vaccine which is proved to be effective not only in stopping but also reversing the damage caused to the brain by the mind-robbing condition.

Although it would not be a fool-proof cure, the researchers behind the new vaccine said it is one of the biggest potential breakthroughs in years in the search for Alzheimer's treatments. It is one of only two vaccines for the condition to have reached the final stages of testing, the Daily Mail reported.

Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia affect more than 800,000 people in Britain alone, and the number is expected to double in a generation as the population ages.

Existing drugs can delay the progress of Alzheimer's, but their failure to tackle the underlying cause in the brain means that their effect quickly wears off and the disease soon takes its devastating course.

In contrast, the bapineuzumab jab, which is being tested on more than 10,000 patients around the world, found to be effective in preventing or even reversing the build-up of amyloid, the toxic protein that clogs the brain in Alzheimer's, destroying vital connections between cells. And researchers believe that this will dramatically slow the progress of the disease.

In one early test, the vaccine is found to cut the number of amyloid plaques by a quarter. The development of tests which can detect Alzheimer's in its earliest stages would allow the jab to be given at the first possible opportunity, the researchers said. This would enable it to save thousands from the most devastating effects of the incurable disease, which leaves sufferers unable to walk, talk and even swallow, making them totally dependent on others.

Dr David Wilkinson from Southampton University's Memory Assessment and Research Centre, said: “Hopefully the vaccine will make a big difference to Alzheimer's treatment. If we can give it early — before major brain impairment is seen — it may have an important part to play.”

The three drug firms behind the vaccine, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Elan Corporation, are expected to seek marketing approval when testing is completed towards the end of next year.

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Published on April 23, 2011
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