ENCOURAGING RESULTS FOR ALZHEIMER’S VACCINE
Three groups this week report encouraging progress towards a possible vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease (Nature, Vol. 408, No. 6815, 21 Dec 2000; pp. 975–979, 979–982, 982–985). Using mice genetically engineered to mimic the condition, the researchers show that the vaccine delays some of the memory and learning problems that plague people with Alzheimer’s disease.
It was previously unknown whether mice with Alzheimer’s disease suffered such mental problems as they aged — even though they build up ‘beta amyloid’ protein deposits in the brain similar to those that occur in humans. Using a new experimental set-up that makes the mice perform specific memory tasks over time, Richard Morris of Edinburgh University, UK, and colleagues now show that they do.
But vaccination with beta-amyloid slows this mental deterioration, Peter St George-Hyslop of the University of Toronto, Canada, and colleagues and Dave Morgan of the University of South Florida, Tampa, and colleagues, also show. It was already known that such vaccines stop beta-amyloid deposits from forming in mouse brains.
Although there is still some way to go, the three studies "give cause for optimism," says Paul Chapman of the Cardiff School of Biosciences, UK, in an accompanying News and Views article.
Peter St George-Hyslop
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(C) Nature press release.
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