In Vienna, a new vaccine (ADO2) for Alzheimer disease, developed by the firm Affiris will soon be tested in six European countries. 420 people are expected to participate in this study. During the past year the safety and tolerability of the vaccine has already been confirmed; now the focus is on its efficacy. Results are expected within a year.
The ADO2 vaccine was developed to prevent the building up of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain which cause nerve degeneration and are believed to play a critical role in the develpment of Alzheimer's disease. “The vaccine works by causing the body to attack these plaques by producing more antibodies”.
The current vaccine is intended to treat patients already affected by the disease. But if results are positive, it may be able to be used for preventative purposes. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative and fatal brain disease that causes a deterioration of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain used for thinking, learning, remembering as well as a vast array of other functions. The brain has billions of neurons that perform very specific functions. Two abnormal structures called plaques and tangles are the leading culprits in damaging and killing nerve cells. Most experts believe that these plaques and tangles block communication among nerve cells and disrupt activities that cells need to survive. Moreover, these numerous tiny dense protein deposits scattered throughout the brain become toxic to brain cells at excessive levels and "tangles" interfere with vital processes eventually killing off the living cells.
Alzheimer disease affects millions of people worldwide. The implications of this vaccine are enormous, and offer hope for a potential future where Alzheimer disease is nothing but a memory.