In 1906, the German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Dr. Alois Alzheimer examined the brain of a woman who had had a strange combination of memory loss, unpredictable behavior, and difficulties with language. He found two types of abnormalities. The first were unusual clumps of tissue; the second were tangles of fibers. He called the condition “presenile dementia,” but it quickly became known as Alzheimer’s D (AD)isease.
Today, Dr Alzheimer’s observations stand as the hallmarks of AD. We refer to the clumps of tissue as amyloid plaques, since they are caused by a buildup and clustering of amyloid proteins. The tangles of fibers are called tau (or neurofibrillary) tangles; they consist of tau proteins that have abnormally connected into long, tangled fibers.
Among the many approaches to Alzheimer’s research has been the search for a vaccine to prevent it. In the early 2000s, researchers attempted a vaccine that introduced antibodies to amyloid proteins, reducing the buildup of the protein. Inflammation is a common side effect of vaccines, but in the case of Alzheimer’s vaccines, the inflammation occurred in the brain. More than 5% of the time, brain inflammation resulted from Alzheimer’s vaccines, a percentage too high to be considered safe.
In a paper, published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, researchers reveal a new approach that sparks the immune system to prevent buildup of both amyloid plaques and tau tangles. The vaccine reduces amyloid plaques by 40 percent, and tau tangles by 50 percent. And it does so without causing brain inflammation, or any other adverse reaction.
The new approach is fundamentally different from all previous approaches to Alzheimer’s vaccines. Antibodies had always been developed in order to be used directly as vaccines. The new approach triggers the body to produce its own antibodies. Since the antibodies are “home-grown,” the body does not perceive them as foreign, and does not react to them.
To date, the vaccine has only been tested in animal models, and there is still much research that must be done before a clinical trial in humans is possible. But in the fight against Alzheimer’s, the potential for a vaccine is a tremendously exciting prospect.
Until Alzheimer’s can be eradicated, the best possible treatment is compassionate, dedicated care, offered by specialists in the field. At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer special units designed to safely and compassionately provide for all of our residents, including those who suffer from various stages of dementia and other cognitive disabilities. Our Alzheimer’s patients thrive in comfort and security at all of our Regency facilities.
Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.
Contact us by clicking here to see which of our three facilities will best meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.