NYU School of Medicine scientists have created the first active vaccine that can significantly delay and possibly prevent the onset of a brain disease in mice that is similar to mad cow disease. The new findings, published online this week in the journal Neuroscience, could provide a platform for the development of a vaccine to prevent a group of fatal brain diseases caused by unusual infectious particles called prions.
Although no cure for these diseases -- which include scrapie, mad cow disease, and chronic wasting disease -- is on the horizon, many research groups in both the United States and Europe are working on prion vaccines. But the NYU study is important because it breaks new ground in demonstrating that active immunization can protect a significant percentage of animals from developing symptoms of prion disease, explains Thomas Wisniewski, M.D., Professor of Neurology, Pathology, and Psychiatry, and the lead author of the study.
The vaccines that provide active immunization are made, in part, from proteins found on disease-causing organisms. In response to these proteins, the animal’s immune system produces antibodies that will destroy them any time they appear in the body. Most vaccines in use today provide such active immunization.
pamela mcdonnell | EurekAlert!
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