Vial with vaccine

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There’s a new experimental vaccine in town, and researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas say it could delay the effects of alzheimer’s.

According to Newsweek, recent trials yielded good results when testing the vaccine on mice, which may lead to human trials in the future. And while “the journey from animal tests to human use” is often a challenging one, one of the study’s senior authors says that if the vaccine is proven safe, it could significantly cut dementia cases.

The Alzheimer’s Assocation notes the degenerative brain disease as the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

“About 5.7 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s and researchers predict that number will rise to 14 million by 2050,” Newsweek writes. “Between 2000 and 2015, deaths related to Alzheimer’s disease increased by 123 percent.”

The Alzheimer’s Association has also named the disease a public health crisis among Black people, with alzheimer’s being more prevalent among African Americans than white folks (estimates range from 14 to 100 percent higher).

A vaccine could mean huge reduction in these numbers, and could even extend the length of people’s lives.

“The vaccine works by prompting the body to produce antibodies inhibiting the buildup of amyloid and tau, two proteins that are hallmarks of the degenerative brain disease,” USA Today explains. “The vaccine is one of several promising treatments aimed at reducing the buildup of those substances before they become deadly plaques and tangles in the brain.”

Doris Lambracht-Washington, a professor of neurology and neurotherapeutics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center goes on to explain: “If the onset of the disease could be delayed by even five years, that would be enormous for the patients and their families. The number of dementia cases could drop by half.”

Read more about the experimental vaccine here.