With more than 7.7 million new cases of Alzheimer’s diagnosed annually worldwide, there is an urgent need for an effective treatment for the disease. Scientists at Flinders University in Australia, collaborating with colleagues at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and University of California at Irvine, have designed a successful vaccine formulation that targets abnormal proteins that signal Alzheimer’s diseases.
The study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, explained that researchers located proteins that can now be treated with vaccines. The vaccine showed a preventive potential in dementia and in Alzheimer’s by making the immune system produce antibodies that help remove abnormal proteins from the brain. The researchers are also confident that the vaccine, by targeting two proteins, would not only prevent but would eventually reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Currently, scientists are working with experts from four different companies to conduct preclinical assessment of the vaccine’ safety profile to fulfill US government safety standards for an FDA Investigational New Drug application. After completion of these pre-clinical studies, the scientists and researchers plan to test the efficacy of the new vaccines in human trials. The Alzheimer’s vaccine will be tested on humans within the next two to three years after being funded by the US government.
Beyond medical collaboration, Australia shares significant ties with California which is the top state in the US in terms of exports of goods and services to Australia. As a result, more than 25,800 jobs in California are directly supported by exports to Australia. Australia-California tourism is also strong, with Australians spending around $935 million annually in the US. California also has the largest Australian-American population of any state in the US.
Medical research institutions in California have partnered with other countries in Asia as well. In July 2016, Singlera Genomics, based in San Diego, partnered with Fudan University’s Taizhou Health Science Institute on a cancer research project. The project will analyze phenotypic information from a 200,000-person cohort to identify biomarkers for early-stage cancer detection. By combining Singlera’s knowledge in bioinformatics and Taizhou’s expertise in sample collection, the joint research team hopes to develop early detection tests with high specificity for esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer.
Sin Yan (Amy) Lau is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at American University.