Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts will soon begin Phase I trials of a nasal vaccine designed to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). it is said in a press release. This is the first time a nasal vaccine has been tried against the disease it affects more than six million people in the US only.
First seen in a patient in the distant 1906 Dr. Alois Alzheimer, the disease is a brain disorder characterized by the presence of lumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled fibers (tau entanglements) between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. The symptoms of the disease, which are usually seen in adults in their 60s, range from memory problems to vision loss and even impaired thinking.
The cause of the disease has long been questioned and researchers have only recently believed to get to its root. Treatment trials have been going on for decades, but most interventions are aimed at reducing the severity of symptoms. The vaccine that will be tested aims to change that.
The nasal vaccine test
Howard L. Weiner, co-director of a center that studies neurological diseases in Brigham, has been researching the development of AD for more than 20 years. Previous studies have shown that immune cells in the body play a role in removing amyloid plaques from the brain. That’s why researchers are using an immune modulator called Protollin to boost the immune system and remove plaque.
Protoline is an intranasal agent obtained by mixing specific cellular components of different bacteria and is already used as an adjuvant to generate a greater immune response for other vaccines. The researchers hope that by activating the immune system, especially the white blood cells from the lymph node located in the neck, the vaccine will clear plaque in patients with AD as well.
The study will include 16 participants between the ages of 60 and 85 who have been diagnosed with symptomatic early-stage AD, the press release said. The test participants will receive two doses of the vaccine one week apart. The main purpose of the test is to determine if the vaccine is safe and can be tolerated at the planned doses. If successful, the same treatment can be used for other neurodegenerative diseases, the press release said.
Interestingly, something else is possible treatment strategy and vaccine for AD was released earlier this month and will soon move to human trials.