A vaccine to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is a step closer following a breakthrough development that successfully targets the abnormal proteins that trigger the disease.

In what is being hailed as the first vaccine of its kind, Flinders University, Adelaide and US researchers contend the vaccine could be used to prevent Alzheimer’s, and treat millions of individuals already living with the degenerative disease.

Testing of the vaccine to date, has demonstrated its ability to stimulate the generation of antibodies, which bind to accumulating proteins, otherwise known as amyloid-beta and tau, in the brain tissue of mice.

Professor Nikolai Petrovsky from Flinders University School of Medicine, described the findings as potentially life-saving to News.com.au.

“If we are successful in clinical trials, in three-to-five years we could be well on the way to one of the most important developments in recent medical history.

“Along with our rapidly ageing populations, we now know that the explosion in Type 2 diabetes in the West is likely to further dramatically fuel the projected rise in the number of cases of dementia globally, with diabetes being the major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Study co-author, Professor Anahit Ghochikyan, from the Institute for Molecular Medicine, California, said after non-clinical toxicology studies, human trials would be conducted to ensure the vaccine was safe.

Significantly, this study demonstrates the potential for immunising patients in the early stages of developing Alzheimer’s disease, or those at risk, using anti-amyloid-beta vaccine.

Should you or a loved one feel concerned about the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, visit your local GP who can assess your medical history and perform some relevant tests.