Vaccinations are good for flu and smallpox, but for Alzheimer's? Could be, according to the Higuchi Biosciences Center and the Drug Information Center at Kansas University.
A flu shot contains pieces of a virus or maybe even a weakened version of a whole virus. Your immune system responds by whipping up a batch of antibodies. Then, when the real germ arrives, the antibodies stick to it, signaling other immune cells to attack.
In the case of Alzheimer's disease, the enemy isn't an invading virus. The danger comes from bad proteins that the body itself manufactures. The proteins, called beta amyloids, cause messy tangles in the brain.
A vaccine has been developed to fight these domestic terrorists. The vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies that mark the beta amyloids for destruction by your immune system.
Last year, scientists discovered that this vaccine, which had cleared out tangles in the brains of mice, was safe to use with people. This year, it's being tested to see whether it's also effective.
If it works, it could become our best hope yet for success against Alzheimer's.