Age Matters Clinic


Toronto Geriatric Assessment and Memory Clinic

Immuno-therapy for Alzheimer's disease?

Vaccination against Alzheimer's plaques, either as a prevention or treatment, is a tantalizing thought. A major trial in the 1990s, however, had to be stopped because of side effects. The vaccine works incredibly well in an animal model. Yes, we have an animal model of Alzheimer's disease. Rats with Alzheimer's, when given the vaccine, begin to function more normally, initiating contact with others and running mazes more rapidly, with evidence of learning, similar to normal animals. At autopsy, the plaques disappear in animals who receive vaccination. The human trial did not go as well. It had to be stopped prematurely because of excess inflammation in the brain.
Current research is exploring "passive immunization". The participants, all of whom are diagnosed with probable, mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, are given antibodies to plaques. There are multiple variations and at least 4 different molecules are being investigated. We have only very preliminary results of benefit and remain optimistic. Final publication is expected during 2011. Keep watch on this website for developments.