Dementia: vaccine breakthrough

A breakthrough could see a vaccine targeting dementia produced within three to five years.

Dementia: vaccine breakthrough

Researchers at Adelaide’s Flinders University have made a breakthrough in the prevention of Alzheimer's and dementia, which could mean a vaccine is produced within three years.

Working with researchers from the Institute of Molecular Medicine and the University of California, the team at Flinders University have solved how dementia develops in the brain and have created a treatment that not only prevents the onset of dementia, but also reverses the early stages of the disease.  

Explaining the process on radio, Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky told listeners that over time, two proteins in the brain break down and cause the condition.

"[The proteins are] a bit like the car in your driveway," he told 891ABC. "Essentially what we have designed is a vaccine that makes the immune system produce antibodies and those antibodies act like tow trucks so they come to your driveway, they latch on to the breakdown protein or car and they pull it out of the driveway."

Professor Petrovsky said the first protein "to go wrong" was a-beta.

"So by developing a vaccine against a-beta it seems to work in the animals best if you give it before they get Alzheimer's or dementia and it doesn't work so well once they have developed the disease," he said. "Interestingly the second protein [tau], which has been found more recently, which we are targeting … it turns out if you target tau with the vaccine you can actually reverse the disease even once it has developed."

There are currently more than 353,000 Australians living with dementia and, without any kind of medical breakthrough, this number is expected to rise to 900,000 by 2050.

With the help of a significant commitment of funding from the US Government, human testing of the vaccine is expected to take place within the next two to three years.

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    14th Jul 2016
    Great....just in time before I lose the rest of my scattered marbles :D
    14th Jul 2016
    Yes Mamacrytal.
    Fingers crossed; at 87 it may be here before mine too.
    14th Jul 2016
    Let's hope that the lucky country does not give such wonderful research to America to make huge amounts of money out of. Better that the Turnbull claim of "innovation" is more than the lie it was and keeps such a vaccine, should it work, in the ownership of OUR country. This may not be the normal procedure but unless we want to continue to be a mining pit then we need to capitalise on our bright minds. History is nevertheless against us.
    14th Jul 2016
    a positive reaction would be good.
    14th Jul 2016
    Truth is even better Rob.
    14th Jul 2016
    Maybe at another time. I just think this is great news for a lot of people, suffers and non suffers and we should celebrate it.
    14th Jul 2016
    If you read the article it clearly states that the Australian researchers were "working with researchers from the Institute of Molecular Medicine and the University of California". So that would seem to imply that the vaccine is not entirely Australia's to keep in any case.
    14th Jul 2016
    Hi Mick: Sounds great but we didn't do it on our own: The ABC article and according to Prof. Petrovsky of Flinders says the project is bank-rolled by the biggest government in the world, i.e. USA and Flinders University: Institute of Molecular Medicine: and University of California have solved how dementia develops due to the significant commitment of funding from the US Government. Because of this, human trials are expected to take place in around three years time.
    14th Jul 2016
    In the ABC article Prof. Petrovsky says the US is very committed to the program and THIS YEAR they have allocated $1Billion for research into treatments of Alzheimer's including our (Australia's) vaccine.
    What a wonderful discovery.
    Chris B T
    14th Jul 2016
    I hope it is on the PBS as soon it is available.
    I may be Dreaming.
    14th Jul 2016
    Just remember to check.
    14th Jul 2016
    I have seen the effects of Alzimers first hand, my mother has had the disease for more than 30 years (correct) she has spent 1/3 of her life in a nursing home, went in at 60 now 94!I hope this heralds some respite from this terrible disease.
    14th Jul 2016
    "With the help of a significant commitment of funding from the US Government, human testing of the vaccine is expected to take place within the next two to three years". ?

    -What about commitment from the Australian government?
    14th Jul 2016
    I can't remember if we have been here before!!
    Nan Norma
    14th Jul 2016
    Well it is good news as it should help to stop elder abuse.
    14th Jul 2016
    My wife is in a home with it - I have read about so many break-throughs.... it is all fine to say you can have a test 3 years from now. Why don't you make it available for whoever is ready to take the risk? - NOW. Taking the he risk is better than living as a vegetable - surely.
    15th Jul 2016
    Looks like a joint AU & U S effort.
    15th Jul 2016
    Leukemia drug increases brain dopamine, lowers toxic proteins linked to Parkinson's or dementia. A small phase I study provides molecular evidence that an FDA-approved drug for leukemia significantly increased brain dopamine and reduced toxic proteins linked to disease progression in patients with Parkinson's disease or dementia with Lewy bodies. Dopamine is the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) lost as a result of death of dopamine-producing neurons in these neurodegenerative diseases.
    There were only 12 patients in the trial held October 2015, but the results are promising.
    In addition to safety, the researchers also examined biological markers in the blood and cerebral spinal fluid as well as cognitive, motor and non-motor improvement. They found significant signs that nilotinib may provide benefit for patients with these neurodegenerative diseases.
    21st Apr 2018
    I was told that in the 1970s doctors warned the Government of the day about this disease which will be an onslaught for the baby boomers and previous generation but they wouldn't LISTEN! Now, look at what happened! I'd do anything to have my mother back from this horrible disease and I would certainly get myself checked. But 3 years is a long wait and it may be too late for the people in different age groups.

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