Researchers from Université Laval, CHU de Québec and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline made a huge advancement toward an Alzheimer's vaccine, according to a published article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The team discovered a way to stimulate the brain's natural defense mechanisms in people with the disease. The brain of an Alzheimer's patient produces a toxic molecule called amyloid beta, which the nervous system is unable to combat.
Led by Dr. Serge Rivest, professor at Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine and researcher at the CHU de Québec research center, the team found a molecule that stimulates the activity of the brain's immune cells, known as MPL (monophosphoryl lipid A). When mice were injected weekly with MPL over a 12-week period, the negative effects from amyloid beta were reduced by 80 percent. The mice also displayed improvements in cognitive functions.
"The vaccine could be given to people who already have the disease to stimulate their natural immunity," said Rivest. "It could also be administered as a preventive measure to people with risk factors for Alzheimer's disease."
What the researchers have discovered is by far the biggest advancement to Alzheimer's disease in history and can finally bring hope to the lives of Alzheimer's patients and their families.