Alzheimer's disease is a condition where the nerve cells of the brains of elderly people slowly stop working, leading to memory loss, madness, and death. Some scientists think that Alzheimer's is caused by the buildup in the brain of chemicals called amyloid-beta peptides. They are trying to make a vaccine using a kind of vaccine called a DNA vaccine. In this kind of vaccination, DNA is put into body cells. This DNA acts like a recipe for an antibody, which is a substance that helps the body's immune system recognize germs. The antibody made by cells that have received the DNA vaccine are for amyloid-beta peptides. That is, these antibodies cause the body's lymphocytes to attack amyloid-beta peptides and destroy them. Researchers have had good success in mice with DNA vaccine, but are quick to point out that human beings are not simply large mice. What works in mice often does not work in people. It will be years before we can know whether an Alzheimer's vaccine for humans is possible. If it is, it will save millions of people from the suffering of Alzheimer's.
fact that infectious disease is caused by germs was not known, people experimented with vaccinating each other using fluids from people or cows infected with cowpox. (The viruses are close enough so that one can be used as a vaccine for the other, but cowpox is not deadly, unlike smallpox.) In 1796, an English doctor named Edward Jenner (1749-1823) tried the experiment for himself, using a farm boy as an experimental subject, and found that it worked. Vaccination for smallpox became commonplace. Vaccination for rabies was introduced in 1885, and for many other diseases in the years since. Today, research to find vaccines for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS) and for other diseases is under way.
Was this article helpful?