Notebook

ALZHEIMER'S VACCINE It's the classic vaccine approach: Get protection against a disease by training the body's immune system, using a bit of the disease itself, to respond to infection in force. Typically applied to infectious diseases such as smallpox or polio, immune system-boosting treatments have more recently been aimed at cancerous tumors. Now a recent paper suggests that Alzheimer's disease (AD) might be effectively treated by priming the immune system with a form of the damaging, neuro

Eugene Russo
Jul 18, 1999

ALZHEIMER'S VACCINE It's the classic vaccine approach: Get protection against a disease by training the body's immune system, using a bit of the disease itself, to respond to infection in force. Typically applied to infectious diseases such as smallpox or polio, immune system-boosting treatments have more recently been aimed at cancerous tumors. Now a recent paper suggests that Alzheimer's disease (AD) might be effectively treated by priming the immune system with a form of the damaging, neuron-suffocating amyloid plaques observed in the brains of AD patients. (D. Schenk et al., "Immunization with amyloid-ß attenuates Alzheimer-disease-like pathology in the PDAPP mouse," Nature, 400:173-7, July 8, 1999). Using a synthetic form of ß-amyloid (Aß), the peptide the plaques are composed of, researchers at Elan Pharmaceuticals of South San Francisco, Calif., showed that the synthetic peptide, called AN-1792, could both prevent and arrest plaque formation in a mouse model genetically engineered...