Researchers have found a molecule that can help develop vaccine for Alzheimer' disease.

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks in daily life.

One of the ways the disease affects the brain is by producing a toxic molecule called amyloid beta. These molecules clump together in the brain forming a plaque that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. The body' defense system, microglial cells, aren't enough to remove these molecules.

Researchers from Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine along with researchers from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have now found molecule MPL (monophosphoryl lipid A) that can fight these amyloid beta cells and remove almost 80 percent of the amyloid plaque. This molecule has been used by GSK to boost the body's response to other vaccines (a vaccine adjuvant), according to a news release.

The new molecule can not only be used as a vaccine, but also be used to treat people who have the disease.

"The vaccine could be given to people who already have the disease to stimulate their natural immunity. It could also be administered as a preventive measure to people with risk factors for Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Serge Rivest, professor at Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine in a news release .

The study, conducted on mice models, showed that MPL injections given every week over a 12-week period removed at least 80 percent of the amlyoid plaques in the brains. Also, mice treated with the MPL showed better learning skills.

"When our team started working on Alzheimer's disease a decade ago, our goal was to develop better treatment for Alzheimer's patients. With the discovery announced today, I think we're close to our objective," said Professor Rivest.