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A Needle-Free Vaccine Looks Promising In Alzheimer’s

A new Alzheimer’s vaccination is being tested on mice specifically bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease. What is different about this vaccination? It does not use a needle, for it is transdermal (across the skin). University of South Florida researchers report that this needle-free vaccine approach is effective and safe in clearing brain-damaging plaques from mice. In addition it is a simpler way of preventing or possibly treating Alzheimer’s and with fewer bad side effects.

The senior study author, Jun Tan, PhD, MD (from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) explains that various researchers have shown that vaccinating against beta amyloid protein can reduce Alzheimer’s-like pathology along with cognitive loss. However, this study is the first to demonstrate that a skin patch which is noninvasive could provide a new therapeutic approach for Alzheimer’s.

The vaccine works by triggering the immune system to recognize and attack beta- amyloid which builds up abnormally in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Previous research on needle vaccines was suspended when the clinical trial caused brain inflammation and death in a small percentage of patients. The researchers of this study targeted the skin as the route of vaccine delivery in mice bred to develop age-related brain degeneration, mimicking Alzheimer’s. So far the news is great: Transdermal immunization in mice does not trigger the aggressive toxicity associated with a needle vaccination. Next researches plan to test if the skin patch can improve cognition in mice. If that goes well, then clinical trials will begin with Alzheimer’s patients using a skin patch or a topical cream.

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