A dementia vaccine — which is the brainchild of a South Australian academic — is on the cusp of starting human trials, with researchers hopeful it will be the “breakthrough of the next decade,” ABC News reports.
Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky said the team of researchers had completed successful testing on mice, which had been “genetically programmed to get dementia and Alzheimer’s disease”.
“We were able to prevent the memory loss in the mice and obviously the next step is to take this into human clinical trials,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
He has been working on the vaccine for two decades, and said he hoped human trials would start in the next 18 to 24 months.
“It’s an exciting time to be starting the new decade — hopefully this is the breakthrough of the next decade if we can get it to work in the human trials,” he said.
“It’s an exciting juncture.”
The vaccine was developed by Professor Petrovsky but research is being led and funded by the Institute for Molecular Medicine and University of California, in the US.
“Currently, we believe Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a build-up of abnormal clumps of protein in the brain,” Professor Petrovsky said.
“It’s like they gum up the system, a bit like when your pipes get blocked and they don’t work so well.
Professor Petrovsky said the vaccine was designed to both be a preventative measure and a cure.
“In the animal models, we can both use it to prevent the development of memory loss by giving it before the animal starts to get these build-ups of proteins,” he said.
“But we can also show that even when we give it after the animals have proteins, we can actually get rid of the abnormal proteins.
Professor Nikolai Petrovsky will start human trials for his dementia vaccine.