COVID VaccinesReturn to WorkMental Health

Is an Alzheimer’s Vaccine Possible? This Woman Thinks So

October 3, 2018, 2:34 PM UTC

The story of Alzheimer’s drug development has been filled with heartbreak over the past few decades. That’s part of the reason why some companies, researchers, and advocacy groups are now trying to prevent the brain-eating disease in the first place rather than curing it after-the-fact.

United Neuroscience is one of those companies—and its ambitious quest is to develop an Alzheimer’s vaccine that could be a prophylactic against the brain-eating disease, CEO Mei Mei Hu said during an interview at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women summit on Tuesday.

“We’re trying to reinvent the idea of a vaccine,” said Hu. “We’re really good at creating vaccines to treat infectious diseases, which come from the outside. We can train our body to fight those things. The problem is that most of us are now dying from chronic diseases.”

Hu went on to note that 70% of people have chronic diseases that account for 80% of health care costs. It’s tricky to create products that can attack non-infectious conditions. “Our bodies are really smart and they don’t want to attack themselves,” Hu explains.

But that’s exactly what United Neuroscience is trying to do with its experimental Alzheimer’s vaccine, which she says has just completed phase two clinical trial studies. Alzheimer’s presents itself with misfolded brain proteins which can aggregate and create plaques; the hope is that the company’s therapy can “teach your body to create antibodies against those plaques.”

If that proves true, it could be a game-changer in a space severely lacking one. But only large-scale studies can confirm the drug’s effectiveness.

Subscribe to Brainstorm Health Daily, our newsletter about the most exciting health innovations.