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CANBERRA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- Australian scientists from University of Sydney on Saturday announced they have developed a vaccine to help halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease of humans in a joint race.
The vaccine, which targets a damaged protein inside brain's nerve cell known as tau, prevents the ongoing neurofibrillary tangles in the brain of a mouse with Alzheimer's disease. The progress of neurodegenerative condition affects more than 35 million people worldwide.
The research team at the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) was led by Associate Professor Lars Ittner, from the Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease Laboratory.
Professor Ittner said so far the vaccine was only tested in mice with Alzheimer's and results have shown it can stop the disease progressing.
"Our study is the first to show that a vaccine targeting the tau protein can be effective once the disease has already set in," he said in a statement.
"Most of the other vaccines targeting tau were tested only before or around the onset of the disease in animal models, but the vast majority of people with Alzheimer's disease are only diagnosed after the symptoms have appeared."
According to Ittner, his team are working with a major pharmaceutical company on developing the vaccine for human trials within five years.
While none of the vaccines is considered a cure, the team was collaborating with the U.S. pharmaceutical industry to develop this new vaccine and about 269,000 Australians suffering from dementia will therefore be benefited.
Currently, there are some existing drugs can help stop Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia from getting worse. However, they do not tackle the underlying causes and become less effective over time.
The scientists published details of study on the vaccine in scientific journal PLoS ONE this week.