Alzheimer's vaccine shows promise in lab tests

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A new vaccine for Alzheimer's disease offers new hope in the laboratories of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Scientists have created what they hope will be an effective vaccine that will help prevent the buildup of amyloid-beta plaques and loss of normal functioning tau protein, two major hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, in the brain. The vaccine is delivered via modified herpes viruses. The mice that received the vaccines were genetically engineered to express large amounts of amyloid-beta protein. They also harbored a mutation that causes the tau-related tangles.

Scientists found that mice injected with the vaccine generated an immune response to the harmful plaques and exhibited normal cognitive function in a series of lab tests, despite their predisposition for Alzheimer's disease. William Bowers, associate professor of neurology and of microbiology and immunology at the Medical Center and lead author of the report, expects it will be at least three or four years before the vaccine is ready for human trials.