The team used special antibodies and a vaccine in mice to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms in the animals. They published their findings in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. Both the antibodies and the vaccine target a truncated form of the beta-amyloid protein that is believed to cause disease. The beta-amyloid protein is a very flexible, thread-like molecule. In Alzheimer’s disease, a large proportion of these thread-like molecules are ‘cut off’ and accumulate to form typical Alzheimer’s plaques.
None of the potential treatments that dissolve amyloid plaques in the brain have been shown to be very successful in reducing Alzheimer’s symptoms in clinical trials. Study director Professor Thomas Bayer of the University of Göttingen Medical Center explained that some had negative side effects. So the researchers decided to take a different approach: They identified an antibody that neutralizes the truncated forms of soluble beta-amyloid, but does not bind to the normal forms of the protein or to plaques.
The vaccination was successful in mice
In mice with Alzheimer’s disease, the antibody helped restore nerve cell function, increase sugar metabolism in the brain, reduce memory loss and reduce the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. When this antibody binds to the short form of beta-amyloid, it folds into a hairpin shape. The researchers used such a folded protein to inoculate mice, which in turn produced the corresponding antibodies. As a result, effects similar to those obtained before were achieved when the antibodies were administered. Researchers are now looking for a commercial partner to test the therapeutic antibodies and vaccine in clinical trials.
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