Alzheimer's breakthrough: Vaccine may be on its way, researchers say

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Researchers say they've made a major breakthrough in the effort to develop an Alzheimer's disease vaccine.

A team from Université Laval, CHU de Québec, and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline discovered that the molecule monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) stimulates immune cells in the brain, leading to the breakdown of the senile plaques associated with Alzheimer's, according to a Tuesday statement. The researchers observed an 80% reduction of senile plaques in mice injected once a week for 12 weeks with MPL.

MPL's safety has already been established, leading the researchers to believe it can be used in a vaccine to stimulate the immunity of both diagnosed Alzheimer's patients and those at risk.

The study findings appear in an early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

News of the potential vaccine breakthrough comes shortly after a government panel delivered recommendations to the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, and outlined ways to improve long-term care for individuals with dementia. The panel said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should work with Congress to update Medicare coverage to enable more comprehensive care for those with Alzheimer's or other types of dementia.

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