The Alzheimer’s vaccine idea that I’ve covered every so often is back in the news. Two studies coming out in Nature Medicine give it a boost. One shows that the ill-fated Elan clinical trial (which came to a screeching halt when some patients developed brain inflammation) actually did lead to antibody production against the beta-amyloid protein. The antibodies recognized various types of amyloid deposits, and crossed into the brain. (That last part is what has amazed everyone since the first animal results – antibodies aren’t supposed to be big players across the blood-brain barrier.)
The other paper reports that a very similar response in rodents can be achieved using a much smaller variant of the amyloid protein. That should lower the chance of inflammatory side-effects considerably, and gives new hope to human studies. This is looking like one of the crazy ideas that just might work – stipulating, for the moment, that amyloid really is the cause of Alzheimer’s. . .