Until now, researchers haven't had much success with amyloid immunization or even with previous experiments with tau vaccines, which have caused brain inflammation in past research.
The Israeli researchers immunized mice who had been genetically engineered to develop neurofibrillary tangles with a combination of three phosphorylated-tau peptides, or shortened versions of the protein.
They saw about a 40 percent reduction in the number of tau tangles, with no evidence of brain inflammation.
"There's certainly a great deal of support for tau being very intimately involved with the disease and, although people kind of pit one against the other, I think, at the end of the day, they're going to be relatable through a common mechanism," Nixon said. "We may be beyond the point of thinking it's going to be either/or. It's going to be both and both potentially will be targetable sites."
In related research, scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles and Riverside, along with colleagues from the Human BioMolecular Research Institute, found that a form of vitamin D, when combined with a chemical found in a spice called curcumin, may help stimulate the immune system to clear the brain of amyloid beta.
Reported in the July issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the findings could lead to treatments for Alzheimer's that tap into the powers of vitamin D3, either with or without curcumin.
Visit the Alzheimer's Association for more on this condition.
SOURCES: Samuel Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., associate director, Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; Ralph Nixon, M.D., Ph.D., vice chairman, Alzheimer's Association Medical & Scientific Advisory Council; Gary Kennedy, M.D., director, geriatric psychiatry, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; July 15, 2009, presentations, Alzheimer's Association annual meeting, Vienna; July 2009, Journal of Alzheimer's Disease