Could a £15 vaccine reverse dementia?

There’s renewed hope in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease after scientists developed a vaccine they believe could reverse dementia. Researchers from the University of Leicester have created the pioneering therapy that prevents protein deposits forming in the brain, which have previously been linked to memory loss.

Costing just £15 a dose, the transformative treatment could become widely available if it goes on to prove its potential. It’s hoped the vaccine will begin human clinical trials within the next two years in a bid to tackle the growing issue of dementia across the world.

Some 850,000 people in the UK are currently living with the disease and as the population continues to age, that number is predicted to increase significantly. There’s currently no cure for dementia, but scientists in numerous countries continue to look for a solution.

One of the theories that researchers base their work around is that dementia is caused by the build up of naturally occurring proteins in the brain. When these amyloid beta proteins group together and form plaques, they are thought to cause memory loss and behavioural changes.

Amyloid beta proteins join up after they have become truncated, so preventing the clumping when this has occurred is paramount. An antibody called TAP01-04 has been found to bind to the shortened proteins and inhibit them from clumping together.

The vaccine is designed to help the body generate TAP01-04 antibodies and could be rolled out to those with a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s. It builds on the idea of preventing dementia before it occurs as opposed to waiting until symptoms begin to present themselves.

Professor Mark Carr, from the University of Leicester, said: “While the science is currently still at an early stage, if these results were to be replicated in human clinical trials, then it could be transformative.”

The study was undertaken in conjunction with medical research charity LifeArc and now that it has shown some potential, a commercial partner is being sought. This would enable the scientists to put the vaccine through the clinical trial process and understand its viability.