Researchers at the University of New Mexico are testing a vaccine that they say could prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to CBS Albuquerque affiliate KRQE.
The vaccine aims to target a protein known as tau that is commonly found in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s. Tau can tangle up and accumulate in the brain in abnormal ways, having a detrimental effect on parts of the brain involving memory.
Kiran Bhaskar, an associate professor in the university’s health and sciences department, said his research began with an idea in 2013. Bhaskar and his team then began testing the vaccine on mice by giving a series of injections to a group of mice with the disease.
Researchers gave the mice maze-like tests and found that those who had been vaccinated performed better than those who hadn’t, CBS reported.
But Bhaskar said he and his team are unsure of the vaccine’s effects on people. Drugs that work in mice don’t always have the same effects on humans, so a clinical trial will be required to determine the vaccine’s success.
Testing a small group comes with a $2 million price tag for the department, so the group is looking for partnerships for help cover the cost.
One in 10 Americans over age 65 has Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. Alzheimer’s prevalence is expected to rise at least 14 percent across all 50 states between 2017 and 2025.