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UNM Technology Holds Promise of Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

A group of researchers in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology are working on a new technology focused on creating a vaccine to treat Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.  The immunotherapeutic approach uses an antigen of the tau protein—the protein that forms tangles inside neurons and prevent communication between the nerve cells.  The researchers are using virus-like particles (VLPs) as the delivery system for the treatment.  The VLP technology was developed by two of the researchers working on the tau technology—Professor David Peabody and Associate Professor Bryce Chackerian.  VLPs are very versatile and useful vaccine platforms for producing vaccines for many applications.  Because VLP’s have had their DNA removed and are unable to replicate, they can induce an immune response without causing infection.  In addition to Drs. Peabody and Chackerian, the other inventors on the tau technology are Assistant Professor Kiran Bhaskar, Research Assistant Erin Crossey (a third year medical student), Research Specialist Nicole Maphis, and Research Tech 3 Julianne Peabody (a senior biology major).  See Matthew Reisen’s August 17, 2015 article, “A vaccine to remember,” from the Daily Lobo, reprinted below.

A vaccine to remember

Campus researchers develop new technique to treat Alzheimer’s disease