Researchers are trying to find out why a vaccine for Alzheimer's would be able to eliminate the beta-amyloid plaque long considered responsible for the disease without actually curing the disease. British scientists tracked patients in the vaccine study for years and performed autopsies on seven volunteers who died during the study. Nearly all the beta-amyloid had been eliminated, but all of the patients suffered severe dementia at the time of their death.
"It may be that these toxic plaques trigger the neurodegeneration, but don't have an ongoing role," said Clive Holmes of the University of Southampton, lead author.
For other experts in the field, though, the outcome helped to underscore how little researchers understand Alzheimer's. And some say the research target should shift to tau, another brain protein that some believe would make a better target.
- read the AP report