University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Alzheimer’s Vaccine?

Study by researchers in the Faculty of Medicine

A vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease could soon be a reality. In a recent study, researchers in the Faculty of Medicine used genetically engineered mice that had cognitive and neuropathological damage similar to humans with Alzheimer’s. The disease occurs when toxic biochemical compounds called amyloid ß-peptides accumulate in the brain and cause memory loss and dementia. When the researchers, led by first author Christopher Janus, immunized the mice with amyloid ß-peptides they discovered that the vaccine significantly reduced plaques and improved learning performance. “Not only were we able to clean up the brain tissue, but we also prevented the behavioural consequences of Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Peter St George-Hyslop, director of the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, a co-author along with David Westaway, associate professor of laboratory medicine and pathobiology. The next step is to test the safety of the vaccine in humans.

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