Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Alzheimer's Vaccine Inching Toward Reality

Despite Setback, Vaccine for Alzheimer's Disease May One Day Be a Treatment Option
WebMD Health News

May 9, 2005 -- A vaccine that triggers the immune system to fight against the plaque-building protein implicated in Alzheimer's disease may still be a viable option in the future for treating -- or perhaps even preventing -- the devastating disease, according to new research.

An earlier study of the experimental Alzheimer's vaccine was halted due to safety concerns in 2002 after 6% of the participants developed brain inflammation.

But two new studies that followed the participants suggest that the approach may slow the memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease by reducing the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

"The idea of inducing the immune system to view beta-amyloid as a foreign protein, and to attack it, holds great promise," says researcher Sid Gilman, MD, a neurologist at the University of Michigan Health System, in a news release. "We now need to see whether we can create an immune response safely and in a way that slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease and preserves cognition."

Round 2 for Alzheimer's Vaccine

Although the safety phase of the study of the vaccine was halted in 2002, researchers continued to follow the participants, and their findings appear in two studies published in this month's issue of Neurology.

About 300 men and women with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease received one to three injections of the vaccine before the study was stopped, and 72 received a placebo.

Brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure changes in brain volume were performed at the start of the study and again after 12 months or after early termination.

Researchers found that of those who received the vaccine, about 20% developed antibodies to beta-amyloid protein; that indicates the immune system of the participants had launched an attack against the plaque-causing protein in the injected vaccine. All but two of these 59 "immune responders" had received two doses of the vaccine.

These immune responders also experienced a decrease in brain volume, according to MRI scans. Researchers say this decrease may reflect a reduction in plaque buildup, but more study is needed to confirm this effect.

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression