Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston Massachusetts will soon begin Phase I trials with a nasal vaccine designed to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a press release said. This is the first time trying to get a nasal vaccine against the disease, which affects more than six million people in the United States alone.
The disease was first seen in a patient way back in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer’s. The disease is a brain disease characterized by the presence of lumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled fibers (rope entanglements) between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Symptoms of the disease, commonly seen in adults in their 60s, range from memory problems to vision loss and even impaired reasoning.
The cause of the disease has long been questioned, and researchers only recently believed to have gotten to the root of it. Research for a cure has been going on for decades, but most interventions are aimed at reducing the severity of the symptoms. The vaccine to be tested aims to change this.
The nasal vaccine trial
Howard L. Weiner, co-director of a center studying neurological diseases in Brigham, has been researching the development of AD for over 20 years. Previous studies have shown that the immune cells in the body play a role in the removal of amyloid plaques from the brain. Therefore, researchers are using an immune modulator called Protollin to stimulate the immune system and remove plaques.
Protollin is an intranasal agent that is derived by mixing specific cell components from different bacteria and is already used as an adjuvant to generate greater immune response for other vaccines. The researchers hope that by triggering the immune system, specifically the white blood cells from the lymph node in the neck area, the vaccine will also remove plaques in AD patients.
The trial will include 16 participants between the ages of 60 and 85, who have been diagnosed with symptomatic, early-stage AD, the press release said. Trial participants will receive two doses of the vaccine at one-week intervals. The main purpose of the experiment is to determine if the vaccine is safe and can be tolerated at the planned doses. If successful, the same treatment method can be used for other neurodegenerative diseases, the press release states.
Interestingly, another possible treatment and vaccine strategy for AD was announced earlier this month and will soon move to human trials.