An Alzheimer’s vaccine that could reduce dementia by half? Researchers at the University of Texas are saying such an outcome just might be possible in the wake of results from an experimental vaccine.

In animal tests, the vaccine prevented the development of tau and beta-amyloid in the brain. Although that’s no guarantee that humans similarly will benefit, the results are promising, the authors noted.

“If the onset of the disease could be delayed by even five years, that would be enormous for the patients and their families,” said Doris Lambracht-Washington, Ph.D., the study’s senior author.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by progressive deterioration of the brain. More than five million Americans have the mind-robbing condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I believe we’re getting close to testing this therapy in people,” added Roger Rosenberg, M.D., founding director of the university’s Alzheimer’s center. Full findings appear in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.