An Alzheimer’s vaccine is on the horizon.

There was big news a short while back with the Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab. Good and bad press along with a high price tag almost dooms this drug from most in need. It might be an excellent drug, but more testing is needed.

Alzheimer’s Vaccine? The new Alzheimer’s drug is a vaccine. Early phase clinical trials clarified exactly who this vaccine will help – those with positive tau markers!

Alzheimer’s patients have two proteins in their brains that begin to run amok over time. Scientists are still investigating why some individuals get Alzheimer’s disease, and other people do not. Possibly, the rationale for the latest clinical trial on the AADvac1 Alzheimer’s vaccine might shed light on the why.

Beta-amyloid proteins can become misshapen and form plaques that many of us have heard about. Tau protein might be the real instigator of the disease and progression. Recent studies show that brain atrophy and cognitive loss are more aligned to tau protein levels.

Alzheimer’s patients were treated with AADvac1, and the results were mixed. Side effects and other measures were not significantly different from the control and placebo groups. Scientists looked closer at the tau pathology in each of the patients. They discovered that some patients (about one-third) with mild dementia had lower levels of tau protein concentration than others.

Post-test results showed a decline in tau protein levels by 30% on clinical and functional testing. The most improvement was in Alzheimer’s patients with higher levels of tau protein. Tau protein biomarkers can distinguish dementia patients who will benefit the most from this new vaccine.

The basis of this vaccine is to create antibodies that will attack free-floating tau proteins before they can form tau tangles and begin destroying neurons. Future clinical studies will focus on both the tau and beta-amyloid proteins using a vaccine to create antibodies. Using the body’s immune system to treat Alzheimer’s is a novel approach.

The vaccine attacked the free-floating tau proteins that are most likely to develop into tangles and left the healthy tau proteins intact. Two of the tau biomarkers are the levels of neurofilament light chains in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid levels of abnormal tau proteins. The vaccine worked as predicted and lowered levels of both tau biomarkers – in one case by almost 60%.


This is a big step in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease for two reasons. One is that a vaccine is being used to teach our bodies to develop antibodies for a specific cause of Alzheimer’s – not just treating a symptom. The second is that the pathology of Alzheimer’s causes can be discriminated to the degree that allows specific treatment for some patients and not lump all patients in the same basket.

Future testing will categorize patients by biomarkers to further develop this pathway. The initial clinical tests were not positive, but the clarification from the testing is definitely remarkable. Using the vaccine to treat inside the brain is another step forward since the blood-brain barrier makes it difficult for drugs to enter the brain mass.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


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