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For some time the Holy Grail of Alzheimer’s disease was thought to be a medication to clear beta-amyloid plaques from the brain, but current research suggest that isn’t going to be enough.

An study by the University of California, Irvine, has been testing an Alzheimer’s drug designed to clear the beta-amyloid plaques. Unfortunately, clearing the plaques does not appear to restore lost learning and memory abilities.

The study’s findings suggest that removing the beta-amyloid plaques may only be beneficial at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and of little benefit once the plaque has achieved significant growth. However, it is possible that treatment with this new vaccine in combination with therapies that target neuron damage and cognitive decline may provide the best treatment for people with a neurodegenerative disease.

Researchers suggest the next step is to repair the neurons damaged by the beta-amyloid plaques. This approach will be critical for treating and reversing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.