Medical breakthrough: new vaccine may prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It accounts for between 50 and 70% of dementia cases, making it a major public health concern. However, a recent study at Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine in Tokyo offers hope for a potential vaccine that would target the inflamed brain cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Scientific Sessions 2023 in Boston, focuses on a unique approach to potentially prevent or alter the course of the disease. Researchers developed a vaccine to kill senescent cells expressing senescent-associated glycoprotein (SAGP), a senolytic that improved the course of various age-related diseases, including atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes in mice.

A notable discovery was the expression of SAGP in glial cells of Alzheimer’s disease patients. These discoveries led to the study of a vaccine targeting cells overexpressing SAGP to combat Alzheimer’s disease in mice.

The lead author of the study, Chieh-Lun Hsiao, PhD, spoke about the importance of the findings. He stated, “Our study’s trial of a new vaccine in mice points to a potential way to prevent or modify the disease. The future challenge is to achieve similar results in humans. If the vaccine is successful in humans, it would be a big step forward in slowing the progression of the disease or even preventing it.”

How the study was conducted

The researchers created a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease that closely resembles a human brain with amyloid-beta-induced Alzheimer’s disease pathology. The SAGP vaccine was carefully administered to the mice, observing its effectiveness in controlling the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

What the researchers learned

One intriguing discovery was the recovery of anxiety in the vaccinated mice. In patients with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety typically decreases, indicating a lack of awareness of the world around them. The vaccinated mice showed increased awareness, a promising sign that the effects of the disease are lessened.

In addition, experts found a significant reduction in the levels of biomarkers of inflammation and amyloid deposits in the cerebral cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for language processing, attention and problem solving.

The effect of the vaccine on astrocyte cells and its effect on behavioral responses was significant. It led to a reduction in the size of inflammatory molecules and improved the mice’s navigation through the maze. “Previous studies using different vaccines to treat Alzheimer’s disease in mouse models have been successful in reducing amyloid plaque deposits and inflammatory factors; however, our study is different in that the SAGP vaccine also changed the behavior of these mice for the better,” Hsiao said.

Alzheimer’s disease is a major public health challenge, and finding cures or effective treatments is critical. A recent study conducted at Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine offers hope for a potential vaccine that targets inflamed brain cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Although the study was conducted in mice, the results are promising and could potentially lead to slowing the progression of the disease or even preventing it in humans. Further research is needed to achieve similar results in humans.

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