Vaccines’ Impact On Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease Unknown

As millions of people scramble to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, millions of others are not convinced of the necessity, effectiveness and safety. I don’t believe that the mRNA vaccine will cause prion disease. My concern is what will the vaccine do to those who already have prion disease, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

The messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, for example, produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna is based on protein science, which is one of the great frontiers of modern medicine. The mRNA technology encourages the body to produce more proteins that can act as antibodies against the virus. The new Novavax vaccine also is based on protein science. It contains the proteins from the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.

Proponents of protein-based vaccines remind us that proteins are one of the building blocks of life. Unfortunately, proteins are one of the leading causes of neurodegenerative disease. Those who have Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, have an excessive and progressive buildup of deadly proteins in the brain. These proteins are the active agent causing the neurodegeneration. What will keep the vaccine from compounding this protein problem? It’s too soon to say. The chances of this protein-oriented vaccine not impacting protein-based diseases are slim. A living laboratory has been launched around the world.

Protein Science

Proteins are in all living organisms and include many essential biological compounds such as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Every cell in the human body contains protein, which is an extremely complex substance consisting of amino acid residues that are connected by peptide bonds. Proteins perform vital functions within each cell, said to be carrying out the duties specified by the information encoded in genes. With the exception of certain types of RNA, most other biological molecules are relatively inert elements upon which proteins act.

Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Antibodies bind to specific foreign particles, such as viruses and bacteria, to help protect the body.

We need protein in our diet to help our body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.

Like other biological macromolecules such as polysaccharides and nucleic acids, proteins are essential parts of organisms and participate in virtually every process within cells. Many proteins are enzymes that catalyse biochemical reactions and are vital to metabolism. Proteins also have structural or mechanical functions, such as actin and myosin in muscle and the proteins in the cytoskeleton, which form a system of scaffolding that maintains cell shape. Other proteins are important in cell signaling, immune responses, cell adhesion, and the cell cycle. In animals, proteins are needed in the diet to provide the essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized. Digestion breaks the proteins down for use in the metabolism.

The first protein to be sequenced was insulin, by Frederick Sanger, in 1949. Sanger correctly determined the amino acid sequence of insulin, thus conclusively demonstrating that proteins consisted of linear polymers of amino acids rather than branched chains, colloids, or cyclols. He won the Nobel Prize for this achievement in 1958.

Once formed, proteins only exist for a certain period and are then degraded and recycled by the cell’s machinery through the process of protein turnover.

A protein’s lifespan is measured in terms of its half-life and covers a wide range. They can exist for minutes or years with an average lifespan of 1–2 days in mammalian cells. Abnormal or misfolded proteins are degraded more rapidly either due to being targeted for destruction or due to being unstable.

mRNA Technology

mRNA vaccines represent a promising alternative to conventional vaccine approaches because of their high potency, capacity for rapid development and potential for low-cost manufacture and safe administration. However, their application has until recently been restricted by the instability and inefficient in vivo delivery of mRNA. Recent technological advances have now largely overcome these issues, and multiple mRNA vaccine platforms against infectious diseases and several types of cancer have demonstrated encouraging results in both animal models and humans.

Nucleic acid therapeutics have emerged as promising alternatives to conventional vaccine approaches. The first report of the successful use of in vitro transcribed (IVT) mRNA in animals was published in 1990, when reporter gene mRNAs were injected into mice and protein production was detected5. A subsequent study in 1992 demonstrated that administration of vasopressin-encoding mRNA in the hypothalamus could elicit a physiological response in rats6. However, these early promising results did not lead to substantial investment in developing mRNA therapeutics, largely owing to concerns associated with mRNA instability, high innate immunogenicity and inefficient in vivo delivery. Instead, the field pursued DNA-based and protein-based therapeutic approaches.

Over the past decade, major technological innovation and research investment have enabled mRNA to become a promising therapeutic tool in the fields of vaccine development and protein replacement therapy.

Many proteins are involved in the process of cell signaling and signal transduction. Some proteins, such as insulin, are extracellular proteins that transmit a signal from the cell in which they were synthesized to other cells in distant tissues.

The existence of mRNA was first suggested by Jacques Monod and François Jacob, and was subsequently discovered by Jacob, Sydney Brenner and Matthew Meselson at the California Institute of Technology in 1961. In molecular biology, messenger RNA (mRNA) is a single-stranded molecule of RNA that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene, and is read by a ribosome in the process of synthesizing a protein. mRNA is then read by the ribosome to create the protein.

The brief existence of an mRNA molecule begins with transcription, and ultimately ends in degradation. 

In theory, the newly formed antibodies are protein components of an adaptive immune system whose main function is to bind antigens (COVID), or foreign substances in the body, and target them for destruction.

Unfortunately, abnormal proteins play a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. The new mRNA vaccines developed to combat the COVID pandemic promote protein synthesis within the human body. Protein synthesis? How can we be sure that the mRNA treatment will trigger beneficial proteins, but not deadly ones? We are about to find out as senior citizens and those living in nursing homes were sent to the front of the line.

How will these synthetic proteins impact those fighting neurodegenerative disease? Unfortunately, no one knows the answer to that question, yet.

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Prion Science

A variety of factors can trigger neurodegenerative disease, including genetics, head trauma and prions (PREE-ons). Prions are infectious, deadly proteins that consume the brain. Prion disease is clinically known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). As the name suggests, TSEs are transmissible.

Prions are a deadly and unstoppable form of protein that migrates, mutates, multiplies and kills with unparalleled efficiency. Prions cause fatal neurodegenerative disease in humans and other mammals by converting the cellular version of prion protein into a toxic form that erodes the brain and body. Prion disease often is described as a wasting disease that causes a loss of body mass and brain mass.

Deadly prions spread through the bodily fluids and tissue of those carrying prion disease (milk, blood, saliva, mucus, urine, feces, tissue and skin). Even asymptomatic victims are carriers. Prions shed from infected humans are highly transmissible to humans and many other mammals. Once discharged from the body of victims, prions proceed to migrate, mutate and multiply. Prion contamination is impossible to stop.

Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing prions and prion disease. President Obama, in a very belated ceremony, awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. Important reforms to policies to protect public health, however, have been elusive. Prion disease is surging globally.

Alzheimer’s disease is currently defined based on the presence of toxic protein aggregations in the brain known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Prusiner’s most recent study confirms that these protein formations are prions. Alzheimer’s disease is a prion disease. So is Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, it begs the question, what will a COVID vaccine that synthesizes protein in the body do in the mind and body of a person already under attack from rogue proteins? We are about to find out. My advice would be to avoid the mRNA version of the vaccine if you have Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. If you have concerns about its ability to transmit the disease to you, then avoid it and wait for another type of vaccine.

COVID Impacts The Brain

The U.K. has been running a project called UK Biobank, which includes more than half a million adults ranging in age from 40 to 69. The study participants provide regular blood and other samples, detailed health information , plus thousands of scans, including brain images using MRI. This has allowed researchers to conduct one of the most rigorous analyses of the effects of COVID on the brain. What makes the data especially powerful is that they compare brain images before and after a COVID infection in the same people.

The study found that even mild cases of COVID led to loss of volume in certain areas of the brain, specifically those regions involved in processing smell and taste. But they also found statistically significant brain volume loss in the gray matter — the thin layer on the surface of the brain that contains most of the neurons — in other areas involved with memory formation. The study also found that people who were diagnosed with COVID had a smaller thalamus prior to infection than those who did not contract the virus. It’s too soon to say if people with a smaller thalamus are more susceptible to COVID, but it’s too soon to rule it out, either. A COVID infection also increases the risk of seizures, strokes and Guillain–Barré syndrome.

Meanwhile, The F.D.A. is planning to warn that Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine can lead to an increased risk of a rare neurological condition known as Guillain–Barré syndrome. Out of nearly 13 million Johnson & Johnson doses administered in the U.S., federal officials have identified roughly 100 suspected cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which occurs when the immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and occasional paralysis. Although the chances of developing the condition are low, they appear to be three to five times higher among recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine than among the general U.S. population. Most people who develop the condition fully recover from even the most severe symptoms.

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Preview and order the eBook now to defend yourself and your family. There is no cure for prion disease, but smart nutrition can ease the symptoms. Smart nutrition also can help you and your family avert neurodegenerative disease.

Gary Chandler is a prion expert. He is the CEO of Crossbow Communications, author of several books and producer of documentaries about health and environmental issues around the world. Chandler is connecting the dots to the global surge in neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s diseaseParkinson’s diseaseCreutzfeldt-Jakob diseasechronic wasting disease and other forms of prion disease. The scientific name for prion disease is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy.