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Paving the way toward a vaccine against Alzheimer's disease

Bethesda, MD Scientists have provided new details about how proteins used to destroy bacteria and viruses may help treat Alzheimers disease. Gunnar K. Gouras, associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, and colleagues provide new insights into how these proteins, called antibodies, reduce the main hallmarks of Alzheimers disease and raise hopes for a vaccine against the disease.

Antibodies are probably the most promising experimental approach to fight Alzheimers disease at this time, Gouras says. The discoveries made using antibodies are so encouraging that results of ongoing vaccine trials against the disease are much anticipated.

Alzheimers disease, the most common form of dementia, gradually destroys a person's memory and ability to learn, communicate, and carry out daily activities. According to the American Health Assistance Foundation, more than 4.5 million people in the United States live with the disease and more than 26 million people are affected worldwide. By 2050, the number of people who will suffer from the disease is estimated to nearly triple in the United States and to be four times as high worldwide.

Although no cure for the disease is available yet, scientists are actively looking for new treatments. One of the main goals of such treatments is to destroy clumps of a protein called beta amyloid, which are found in the brains of people with the disease, either inside the nerve cells or around them. Antibodies have been shown to be effective at removing these clumps but how they do it is not completely understood.

In their new study, appearing as the cover story of the June 29 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Gouras and his colleagues provide new details about how the antibodies attack these clumps inside the nerve cells. The study was selected as a Paper of the Week by the journals editor, meaning that it belongs to the top one
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Contact: Pat Pages
ppages@asbmb.org
301-634-7366
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
21-Jun-2007


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