Jab to Halt Alzheimers Is Tested on Patients

Article excerpt

Byline: Fiona MacRae

A REVOLUTIONARY jab that scientists believe could stop Alzheimers disease in its tracks is being tested on patients.

Initial results indicate it could stop sufferers from reaching the devastating final stages of the disease, which can destroy the ability to walk, talk and even swallow.

Scientists are said to be excited after a year-long trial on sufferers.

However the drug, effectively a vaccine, is not expected to repair the damage already done to patients, so would not be a cure.

Current Alzheimers drugs can halt the progression of the disease for some patients but effects wear off over time.

In contrast, it is hoped the new jab will hold the disease the most common form of dementia, which affects more than 40,000 Irish people at bay indefinitely.

The vaccine generates antibodies that seek out and destroy the sticky protein that clogs the brain in Alzheimers sufferers.

When the jab was given to mice suffering an Alzheimers-like disease, 80 per cent of the amyloid protein patches or plaques were broken up.

Now it has been given to people for the first time, with promising results. In a year-long trial, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden gave 31 men and women with mild or moderate Alzheimers regular injections of the vaccine.

Tests showed the drug, which is known as CAD106, triggered the production of anti-amyloid antibodies in two-thirds of cases and was safe to use.

However, most patients did suffer some side-effects, including headaches and nasal problems.

Experts called the results encouraging but cautioned that other promising jabs had failed to come to fruition.

Professor Clive Ballard, of the Alzheimers Society, said the vaccine might be of most benefit to those in the very early stages of the disease. …