Professor Kiran Bhaskar and a Ph.D. student, Nicole Maphis have created a drug that could possibly prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
The researchers at the University of New Mexico believe that they have found a vaccine to prevent incurable Alzheimer's disease, according to CBS Albuquerque affiliate KRQE-TV. The school also notes how Alzheimer's "is on the rise, currently affecting 43 million people worldwide," and how it affects almost a third if senior citizens. While there's no cure to this condition, Professor Kiran Bhaskar, UNM's Health and Sciences Department Associate seems to have found a loophole. "I really wanted to take this as a challenge to see if we could develop any sort of treatment," said Bhaskar who has been thoroughly studying Alzheimer's Disease for the past decade.
Speaking about the prevention method he revealed how he started looking for a cure after an idea sparked in his mind 2013. Explaining further how he got to where he is right now he said, "I would say it took about five years or so to get from where the idea generated and get the fully functioning working vaccine." Shortly after the studies started falling into place Bhaskar and his team created a vaccine that they first tried on a bunch of mice while the human testing still awaits its turn.
Nicole Maphis, a Ph.D. student shared how they used injected the vaccine on mice who have already been affected by the disease. "We used a group of mice that have Alzheimer's disease, and we injected them over a series of injections," she said. She also revealed how their vaccine was specifically created to target a protein called tau which is commonly found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. "What we chose to pursue was a specific region of tau, as you saw pathological tau the red structures, that are common in Alzheimers Disease. We wanted to make a vaccine against that," said Maphis.
After the series of tests that were conducted, Maphis explained how the results were surprisingly positive. "These antibodies seem to have cleared pathological tau. Pathological tau is one of the components of these tangles that we find in the brains of patients with Alzheimers Disease," she said. Soon after the vaccine was provided to the bunch of mice that were affected they conducted a series of maze-like tests. Throwing light upon the results she explained how they performed much better than the ones who didn't receive the formula.
Maphis also disclosed that the effect of the shot lasted a month as reported by the UNM. Elucidating further the school pointed out how the long tangles "disrupt the ability of neurons to communicate with one another and the protein tau present is "normally a stabilizing structure inside of neurons." Despite the positive results, the researchers confessed that it might not be the same for humans. While several drugs work on mice just like this one did, there's no surety that it will work on humans the same way.
Both Maphis and Bhaskar reveal that unless it's clinically proven to be the case the drug cannot be considered a complete success. A clinical trial involving volunteers affected by Alzheimer's will be required to test how well the vaccine actually works and this may take up to several years to reach human beings. A trial of this level, with no guaranteed success, will require an investment that will easily exceed billions of dollars. "We got to make sure that we have a clinical version of the vaccine so that we can test in people," said Bhaskar.
Moreover, the researchers reveal how testing this drug on a small group of people would easily cost the UNM Health Sciences Department around $2 million. So, for that sole reason, Maphis and Bhaskar are currently looking for partnerships that could help them achieve a clinical-grade for the vaccine they have developed. As soon as the vaccine is developed further and is safe for humans, the school will be submitting it to the FDA for its approval which would add another five years for the preventive treatment to be available.