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2012 Grants - Agadjanyan
Immune Mechanisms Involved in Responses to Multiepitope Alzheimer's Disease Vaccine
Michael G. Agadjanyan, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Institute for Molecular Medicine
Huntington Beach, California
2012 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
One strategy that is being studied to prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease is the use of vaccines. Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system so that it attacks and destroys molecules or microorganisms that cause disease. Vaccines for Alzheimer's disease have been developed that stimulate immune cells to enter the brain and remove beta-amyloid, a protein fragment that is strongly implicated in the Alzheimer's disease process.
To date, vaccines for Alzheimer's disease have not been effective, but scientists are studying several strategies to improve their performance. Michael G. Agadjanyan, Ph.D., D.Sc., and colleagues are studying one of these strategies. Typically, vaccines direct the immune system to recognize one small region of a molecule, known as an epitope. This is done by injecting a region of that molecule into the blood stream, causing the immune system to develop the ability to recognize the molecule as a foreign object.
Dr. Agadjanyan's team is developing vaccines that contain multiple copies of beta-amyloid (multiepitope) attached to a specialized molecule known as PADRE. PADRE is another protein fragment that stimulates the activity of a specific component of the immune system. The goal of this research is to direct the immune system to generate specific antibodies against beta-amyloid and generate a stronger immune response than those generated by conventional vaccines. The researchers plan to study how the immune system responds to this new type of vaccine, and how well the vaccine protects against Alzheimer's-like changes in the brains of mice.