Alzheimer’s disease (AD) was first described by
Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906. Examining the brain
of a woman with a strange combination of memory loss, unpredictable behavior, and difficulties with language, he found two distinct sets of abnormalities. The first were unusual clumps of tissue; the second were tangles of fibers. Today, we know the former as amyloid plaques,
a buildup and clustering of amyloid proteins.
The latter we call tau (or neurofibrillary) tangles, the abnormal connection of tau proteins into long, tangled fibers.
Among the many approaches to Alzheimer’s research has been the search for a vaccine to prevent it. In the early 2000s, researchers were able to introduce antibodies to amyloid proteins by vaccination, thereby reducing the buildup of the protein. Unfortunately, the vaccine that used this technology caused brain inflammation in more than 5% of participants, too high a percentage to be considered safe.
In a paper, published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, researchers found a new approach that sparks the immune system to prevent buildup of both amyloid plaques and tau tangles. The vaccine reduces amyloid plaques by 40 percent, and tau tangles by 50 percent. And it does so without causing brain inflammation, or any other adverse reaction.
The new approach is fundamentally different from previous approaches to Alzheimer’s vaccines. Previously, antibodies were developed against amyloid and tau proteins, and then injected as vaccines. Because the immune system recognized these antibodies as foreign, it often treated them as a threat to the body, and attacked them. This attack, or “rejection” of the antibodies, can lead to a variety physical reactions, including inflammation in the brain.
The new approach triggers the body to produce its own antibodies. Since the antibodies are “home-grown,” the body does not perceive them as foreign, and does not react to them.
To date, the vaccine has only been tested in animal models, so there is still much research that must be done before a clinical trial in humans is possible. But in the fight against Alzheimer’s, the potential for a vaccine is a tremendously exciting prospect.
Until Alzheimer’s can be eradicated, the best possible treatment is compassionate, dedicated care, offered by specialists in the field. Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, provides care that is specifically designed to address the needs of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive disorders.
For the safety and well-being of our cognitively impaired residents, we have a separate secure unit, whose wide corridors are homelike and easy to navigate. Our goal? To create an environment with a sense of familiarity and security.
The caregivers in our Alzheimer’s unit are specially trained to care for memory impaired residents. With their extra sensitivity and understanding of the condition and its impact, our caregivers treat each resident with dignity and love.
Our care program for the cognitively impaired helps residents maximize cognitive function. Likewise, the activities program is designed to foster social interaction and an appreciation of life.
For people in more advanced stages, innovative sensory therapies such as audiovisual stimuli and aromatherapy are beneficial in inducing a sense of calm.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 732-364-7100, or by clicking here.