Progress towards Alzheimer's vaccine: Israeli researcher

Sep 21, 2009

An Israeli researcher working on a vaccine to combat Alzheimer's disease said on Monday he had made important progress following tests on gene-altered laboratory mice.

A researcher who is working on a vaccine for Alzheimer's disease (AD) has demonstrated that it is possible to test and measure specific immune responses in mice carrying human genes and to anticipate the immune response in Alzheimer's patients. This continuing research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev could one day lead to specific Alzheimer's vaccines that reduce plaque, neuronal damage and inflammation associated with the disease.

Amyloid beta-peptide accumulates in the brain of AD patients where it appears to promote neuronal damage. In the new article published in the Journal of Immunology, BGU researcher Dr. Alon Monsonego determined that introducing A-beta into the brain triggers a natural immune response which can be detected in humans.

Importantly, the research team showed that the specificity and magnitude of this body response to A-beta depends on certain key genes of the immune system, which are highly polymorphic in the population (this means that except for identical twins, almost each of us has a different combination of genes termed "HLA alleles").

Furthermore, this research took an unusual approach combining humans and humanized mouse models. "We began with characterizing the genes in humans in a collaboration with the laboratories of Dr. Weiner and Dr. Selkoe at Harvard, then did the same study in mice using a mouse model of multiple sclerosis witht the laboratory of Dr. Altmann- Imperial College School of Medicine, UK," Monsonego explains. "We then generated a humanized mouse model of AD, with a specific gene that was present in approximately 30 percent of our study group (HLA DR15 allele). Conceivably, those people that have this gene could receive the same vaccine which will teach a person's immune system to better fight the disease."

Monsonego continues, "As in other mouse models of the disease, we show that with aging A-beta aggregates accumulate in brain areas of cognitive functions and stimulate an inflammatory reaction in the brain. However, stimulating an immune response to A-beta in these humanized mice not only resulted in a highly efficient clearance of A-beta (plaque) from the brain, but also in a markedly reduced inflammatory reaction. Furthermore, we were able to predict that the characteristics of immune response in mice were the same as in the humans.

"This study thus provides the basis for developing an individual-based (personalized medicine) immunotherapeutic approach to Alzheimer's disease since different populations will respond differently to a vaccine based on their genetic background," Monsonego explains. "Now that we've proven we can anticipate the specific responses for several abundant genes in the population, further study is needed to ensure safety and efficacy in our humanized mouse model of AD."

Dr. Monsonego, who holds the Zehava and Chezy Vered Career Development Chair for the Study of Alzheimer's and Neurodegenerative Diseases, is a member of BGU's Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev.

The research is funded in part by the Israel Science Foundation, the Alzheimer Association and by the New York real estate developer Leonard Litwin and the Aaron Gural family.

"It is so rewarding to see how donors of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev are contributing to the groundbreaking progress on discovering a viable Alzheimer's vaccine," states Executive Vice President Doron Krakow. "It's another example of how BGU's research helps people around the world."

Provided by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Explore further: Controlling Ebola in West Africa most effective way to decrease international risk

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Can tomatoes carry the cure for Alzheimer's?

Jul 08, 2008

The humble tomato could be a suitable carrier for an oral vaccine against Alzheimer's disease, according to HyunSoon Kim from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) in Korea and colleagues from ...

Scientists reverse memory loss in mice

Jul 15, 2005

University of Minnesota researchers Thursday announced they reversed memory loss for the first time in mice with significant brain degeneration.

Report: 35 million-plus worldwide have dementia

Sep 21, 2009

(AP) -- More than 35 million people around the world are living with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, says the most in-depth attempt yet to assess the brain-destroying illness - and it's an ominous forecast ...

Vaccine triggers immune response, prevents Alzheimer's

May 19, 2008

A vaccine created by University of Rochester Medical Center scientists prevents the development of Alzheimer’s disease-like pathology in mice without causing inflammation or significant side effects.

Researchers clear up Alzheimer's plaques in mice

May 30, 2008

Blocking a common immune system response cleared up plaques associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and enabled treated mice to recover some lost memory, Yale University researchers report Friday in the journal Nature Medicine. ...

An Alzheimer's vaccine?

Nov 12, 2007

Could a new vaccine be the key to stopping Alzheimer’s disease? A new research study from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) shows that immunization could offer a way to blunt or even prevent the deadly, memory-robbing ...

Recommended for you

Ebola: Keeping patients alive as body fights back

5 hours ago

People who shared an apartment with the first U.S. Ebola patient are emerging from quarantine healthy. And while Thomas Eric Duncan died and two U.S. nurses were infected caring for him, there are successes, ...

Study suggests altering gut bacteria might mitigate lupus

6 hours ago

Lactobacillus species, commonly seen in yogurt cultures, correlate, in the guts of mouse models, with mitigation of lupus symptoms, while Lachnospiraceae, a type of Clostridia, correlate with worsening, according to researc ...

User comments : 0