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Friday, December 6, 2013
Vaccine for Alzheimer's Disease
My father has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer`s Disease. I have done some reading that discussed the development of a vaccine as a possible treatment. Will a vaccine be used to prevent the progression of the disease in a person with the disease, used on a person believed to be high risk for acquiring the disease, or used with all people, like the polio vaccine? How far off is this vaccine? Is this the most promising treatment option? Thank you.
At this time it is not known whether the vaccine will be useful, neutral or harmful. From the scientific standpoint it offers the best hope to slow progression or prevent onset of AD, not reverse the symptoms already present. How, and in whom, it is used will depend on how useful it appears in different testing populations, how expensive it will be, and the risk for side effects. These are all reasons for conducting the experiments instead of just releasing it out into general use. It is not possible to say whether it is `The most promising` because at this point no human results have been published. The link between animal testing and humans is a tenuous one at best. Remember when saccharin was banned because it `caused cancer in laboratory animals?` Well, you can buy and use saccharin to your heart`s delight these days, because that link was not proved in humans. For that reason, little more than cautious optimism is called for at this point when thinking through the Alzheimer vaccine.
David Geldmacher, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University