A breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
For the first time, an international research team has developed a very promising new method for treating Alzheimer’s disease that could also enable vaccination against the disease.
A recent study involving experts from the University of Leicester and Göttingen Medical Center found that an antibody-based treatment and a newly developed protein-based vaccine reduced Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice. The results were published in the English-language journal.Molecular PsychiatryPosted.
The beta-amyloid protein does not target the vaccine
Deposits of beta-amyloid protein in the brain have long been associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Beta-amyloid comes in different forms, however, in the approach now developed, both the antibody and the vaccine target a soluble form of the protein thought to be particularly harmful, the team reported.
Beta-amyloid can combine to form highly flexible thread-like particles in solution to form fibers and sheets and it was already known from previous studies that in Alzheimer’s disease a large portion of the thread-like particles in solution are shortened or cut off, the researchers report. Some experts see this as the key to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Previous treatment methods were unsuccessful
“In clinical trials, none of the potential treatments that dissolve amyloid plaques in the brain have been very successful in reducing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Some also have negative side effects. That is why we decided to take a different approach. We identified an antibody in mice that neutralizes the Abbreviated forms of beta-amyloid are soluble, but do not bind to normal forms of the protein or to plaques,” explains study author Professor Thomas Bayer from the University Medical Center Göttingen. press release.
The team has adapted these antibodies so that they are not perceived as foreign by the human immune system and are therefore accepted. The researchers then examined how and where this humanized antibody (TAP01_04) binds to the short form of beta-amyloid. They found that the beta-amyloid protein was bent back into a hairpin shape.
The structure of a new beta-amyloid was determined for the first time
“This structure had never before been seen in beta-amyloid. The discovery of such a unique structure enabled the team to modify this region of the protein to stabilize the hairpin shape and bind to the antibody in the same way. Our idea was that this modified form of beta-amyloid could be used as a vaccine to induce the device.” A person’s immune system can produce TAP01_04 antibodies,” explains study author Professor Mark Carr of the Leicester Institute for Structural and Chemical Biology at the University of Leicester.
Animals produced antibodies from the TAP01 vaccine
Then the research group tested the modified beta-amyloid protein in mice. It turns out that the animals actually produced the TAP01 antibody after they had been given the vaccine. Next, the humanized antibody and the engineered amyloid-beta vaccine (TAPAS) were examined in two different mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.
Memory loss fixed
Using special imaging techniques similar to those used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in humans, the international team found that the antibody and vaccine helped restore working neurons, increase glucose metabolism in the brain, and correct memory loss. Experts said these effects occurred even though the antibody and vaccine did not directly target the formation of beta-amyloid plaques.
The humanized antibody TAP01_04 and the TAPAS vaccine are very different from previous Alzheimer’s disease antibodies or vaccines tested in clinical trials because they target a different form of the protein. This makes it very promising as a potential treatment for the disease, both as a therapeutic antibody and as a vaccine. The results so far are very exciting and (…) if the treatment proves to be successful, it could change the lives of many patients, explains study author Dr. Preity Bakrani.
Effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in the future
If the results can be reproduced in human clinical trials, it offers hope of a major change in the way we treat Alzheimer’s disease. Not only will this open up the possibility of effectively treating Alzheimer’s disease once the first symptoms appear, but it is also possible to envision a vaccine that can be given before the first symptoms of the disease appear, according to study author Professor Carr. (as)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of the specialized medical literature, clinical guidelines, and current studies and has been examined by medical professionals.
- Gareth Hall, Yvonne Bouter, Caroline Bouter, Nicola Beindorff, Richard Cowan, et al.: Discovery of a new pseudo-β-hairpin structure of N-truncated amyloid for use as a vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease; In: Molecular Psychiatry (veröffentlicht 15.11.2021), Molecular Psychiatry
- University of Leicester: New approach provides vaccine and potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (veröffentlicht 14.11.2021), University of Leicester
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.
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