The dementia news millions have been waiting for

Many reading this right now will have been touched by dementia in their life at some stage – whether in

Many reading this right now will have been touched by dementia in their life at some stage – whether in a family member or friend, or someone you know. Dementia affects over 300,000 Australians, which that number increasing at a rapid rate.

It’s one of the most scary parts of ageing, and something in the back of many peoples’ minds. But perhaps not for much longer. There’s been some wonderful news today: a vaccine for Alzheimer’s may only be a few years away.

The ABC reports a vaccine to prevent and even reverse the early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia could be tested on humans within the next two to three years after the US Government green-lit funding.

Researchers from South Australia’s Flinders University have been working with US scientists at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and University of California to develop the vaccine, which targets proteins in the brain that block neurons.

Flinders University medicine professor Nikolai Petrovsky said that deterioration of two main proteins was the cause of dementia.

“[The proteins are] a bit like the car in your driveway,” Professor Petrovsky told 891 ABC. “You need to remove them from the brain otherwise if you left broken down cars in your driveway eventually you couldn’t get out.

“Essentially that’s what happens in people who get Alzheimer’s or dementia is they have lots of these broken down proteins in the brain.

“Essentially what we have designed is a vaccine that makes the immune system produce antibodies and those antibodies act like tow trucks so they come to your driveway, they latch on to the breakdown protein or car and they pull it out of the driveway.

“So by developing a vaccine against a-beta it seems to work in the animals best if you give it before they get Alzheimer’s or dementia and it doesn’t work so well once they have developed the disease,” he said.

“Interestingly the second protein, which has been found more recently, which we are targeting … it turns out if you target it with the vaccine you can actually reverse the disease even once it has developed.”

Professor Petrovsky said having a vaccine that targets both the offending proteins would be a major drawcard for people who want protection against the sad and debilitating disease.

“It could be used both to give people at a particular age, say 50 years of age when they are perfectly fine, to stop them developing dementia, but potentially also could be given to people at least in the early stages of dementia to actually try and reverse the process,” he said.

He said the vaccine would be tested on humans within the next two to three years, which is extremely promising.

Tell us, are you worried about getting dementia? Do you know someone who has suffered from it?

  1. Patricia Haynes  

    Yes I have been concerned since my elderly sister was diagnosed with Lewy Body dementure 3 years ago , sadly she passed away January this year aged 88 yrs, I am turning 74 next week & was concerned but my doctor told me that Lewy Body is not inherited.

  2. Yes I worry about it, but if it happens, it happens. Both my Grandmothers were extremely affected fairly early in their lives, and over the final months of my Dad’s life, I could see it coming through him as well. So, I guess I am bound as well.

  3. Lorraine Walker  

    Fabulous news! I hope it will be affordable and readily available to everyone who requires it.

    • Yvonne Hudacek  

      Of course it would be a wonderful breakthrough, and give independence back once again. There is no mention here of the tangles that case this distressing complaint.

  4. Jean  

    Marvellous news what would we do without all the dedicated people researching these illnesses congratulations on your great work👍🏻

  5. Marie Millett  

    I would happily be part of the trial for this vaccine which hopefully will help millions and keep people from having too enter nursing homes and save families from the distress off watching a loved one slip away too a world they are no longer a part off.

  6. I want to be first in the line please as I looked after my mother with Alzheimers Disease for 16 years. I would rather die than get this disease.

  7. I would certainly want yo be involved in this program , as 3 of my siblings have it and I am told its hereditary ,
    Bring on the test ,
    If I got this disease I would comit suicide ,

  8. Margaret Ferguson  

    My Mother has the this terrible thnk called Dementia.Yes i am very scared that i will also develop Dementia as i get older please make this vaccine available.I would love to be in volunteer for the trail of this vaccine

  9. Christinebampton  

    I think everyone worries about getting this, I certainly do

  10. Lesley Purcell  

    I have been looking after my husband, his first stroke was 20 yrs ago, the last 5 yrs he has had vascular dementia. Some days are roses and others are thistles. I find it very hard some times.

    • Simone  

      I sympathise Lesley, am in the same position, thank goodness for groups like this as it keeps you in touch with reality a bit

  11. Rachel  

    I am currently supporting my dad to look after my mum who has Alzhmiers. I worry alot that I very well may get/have it. Good news that a possible cure/prevention anything that may help.

  12. Simone  

    If this works it will save such a lot of heartache for both people with the disease and their carers. My husband has had vascular dementia for 8 years, gradually getting worse over the last 3 years and now quite severe. I am his unpaid carer like many others, the person with the condition is often unaware of what it takes to keep them going on a daily basis, but not enough is made aware of how difficult it is for carers when it is 24/7, It becomes a prison for everyone. I get 3 hours a week carers respite cover which makes such a difference, I have a lovely lady who comes in so I can go out without worrying and keep busy with crafts and sell some online, which keeps me sane. I am in England so hope it soon follows here

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