Dementia is a common, chronic cognitive disease that generally affects people over the age of 45. The disease resides in the brain and tends to cause behavioral changes, memory loss, and impaired reasoning. Many of those who suffer from dementia require assisted care in order to carry on with their day to day lives. Loved ones are generally saddened when a family member is diagnosed with dementia, however there may be some hope on the horizon.
A South-Australian University has researchers that have been working tirelessly in collaboration with those in the United States to devise a vaccine that will combat the effects of dementia. The vaccine is used to target certain proteins and block neurons in the brain. The efforts to create the vaccination was spurred on by the fact that over 350,000 Australians are currently suffering from dementia and, without treatment, the number was expected to rise to nearly 900,000 in the next 32 years. We already know thousands in the U.S. also have issue with the disease, so the development would benefit those world-wide.
How Proteins in the Brain May Impact Dementia
One of the researchers, Professor Petrovsky, found that the two proteins in the brain that begin the deterioration are amyloid-beta (a-beta) and tau. In order to have an effective treatment, the vaccine would need to specifically target those two proteins. The idea is to remove them in order to clear the pathway for the brain. Akin to broken down cars on a highway, the ill functioning proteins cause a breakdown of the brain’s capability. Surprisingly, research has also found that targeting the tau protein could even reverse the effects of the disease even after it has developed.
Can a Vaccine Help Prevent the Illness?
This brings a lot of hope to those individuals who have already shown signs and symptoms of dementia; the probability of the disease being reversed means returning to some form of mental norm. As Professor Petrovsky explained in the findings report, if persons under the age of 50 are administered the vaccine, it’s possible that they could prevent the illness entirely.
The dementia vaccine is scheduled to be tested on humans within the next two to three years unless the development runs into a major roadblock. The United States government has allocated approximately $1 billion to the program and is completely behind the creation that could potentially improve the quality of life for so many.
Though the vaccine is still a couple years from full development, there are measures you can take to help your loved one with dementia live more comfortably such as in-home nursing care. If you’re in South Florida, the dedicated professionals at 24-7 Nursing Care are available to help with in-home nursing and companion services. Feel free to contact us for a free at-home consultation.
(n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2016, from https://www.gstatic.com/healthricherkp/pdf/dementia.pdf
Dementia vaccine could be just years away. (2016). Retrieved July 25, 2016, from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-13/dementia-vaccine-may-be-years-away-flinders-uni-professor-says/7623574