LAWRENCE, Kan. — A study done at the University of Kansas could be on the brink of developing an immunization against Alzheimer’s disease.

Lead researcher Jackob Moskovitz, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the KU School of Pharmacy, had his findings published in the peer-reviewed open-access journal Antioxidants.

“As we age, we have more oxidative stress, and then beta-amyloid and other proteins accumulate and become oxidized and aggregated – these proteins are resistant to degradation or removal,” Moskovitz said.

In the study, an antigen derived from corn was injected into the body of mice to promote the production of antibodies against a toxic protein, beta-amyloid, that is viewed as a “hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.”

A series of tests examined the ability of the mice to retain short-term memory.

“We measured short-term memory capability through a ‘Y’ maze, and that’s very important in Alzheimer’s disease — because when people get Alzheimer’s, their short-term memory is going away, while the old memories are still there,” Moskovitz said. “You put a mouse in a maze shaped like a ‘Y’ so they can go either the left or right arm. But then you introduce a third arm in the middle and if they recognize the third arm as new, they’ll spend more time exploring that new arm because they have curiosity. If they don’t even notice there’s a third arm — because they forget it the minute after they saw it — they will spend more time in right or left.”

The results showed about 50% improvement in the short-term memory of the mice who received the injection, Moskovitz said.

Researchers determine the data is translational, meaning an immunization could help delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Moskovitz believes an immunization like this would be given to patients around their 50s and 60s.

“Further booster shots could maintain immunization, a process which people are so familiar with from the COVID vaccines,” Moskovitz said.

Now, the team of researchers will look to conduct pre-clinical and clinical trials in humans with sponsorship from “interested pharmaceutical companies.”