Medical

Novel dementia vaccine on track for human trials within two years

Novel dementia vaccine on trac...
A potential dementia vaccine should move into human trials within the next 18 to 24 months
A potential dementia vaccine should move into human trials within the next 18 to 24 months
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A potential dementia vaccine should move into human trials within the next 18 to 24 months
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A potential dementia vaccine should move into human trials within the next 18 to 24 months

A newly published study has described the successful results in mice of a novel vaccine designed to prevent neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers suggest this "dementia vaccine" is now ready for human trials, and if successful could become the “breakthrough of the next decade.”

The new study, led by the Institute for Molecular Medicine and University of California, Irvine, describes the effect of a vaccine designed to generate antibodies that both prevent, and remove, the aggregation of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain. The accumulation of these two proteins is thought to be the primary pathological cause of neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The research revealed the vaccine led to significant decreases in both tau and amyloid accumulation in the brains of bigenic mice engineered to exhibit aggregations of these toxic proteins. Many prior failed Alzheimer’s treatments over the past few years have focused individually on either amyloid or tau protein reductions, but growing evidence suggests a synergistic relationship between the two toxic proteins may be driving neurodegeneration. Hence the hypothesis a combination therapy may be the most effective way to prevent this kind of dementia.

This new treatment combines two vaccines, dubbed AV-1959R and AV-1980R, which are designed to respectively target amyloid and tau protein aggregations. The vaccine is formulated in a novel adjuvant called Advax, developed by a team of Australian researchers to enhance vaccine immunogenicity.

Advax has been developed by Nikolai Petrovsky, a scientist from Australia’s Flinders University who told ABC News Australia the new formulation offers the potential to act as both a preventative vaccine against the development of neurodegeneration, and a curative treatment in subjects already suffering from a build-up of these toxic proteins.

"In the animal models, we can both use it to prevent the development of memory loss by giving it before the animal starts to get these build-ups of proteins," says Petrovsky. "But we can also show that even when we give it after the animals have proteins, we can actually get rid of the abnormal proteins.”

Following many high-profile clinical trial failures of drugs designed to reduce amyloid protein aggregations in the brain, some scientists are looking to vaccine-based preventative measures in the battle against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The hypothesis is that preventing these toxic proteins from accumulating in the first place may be the most effective way to treat dementia.

Several vaccines are currently in development aiming to do just that, catching neurodegenerative disease at its earliest stages in middle age. Petrovsky suggests this particular dementia vaccine is on track to move into human trials within the next two years.

"It's an exciting time to be starting the new decade – hopefully this is the breakthrough of the next decade if we can get it to work in the human trials," Petrovsky says.

The new research was published in the journal Alzheimer's Research & Therapy.

Source: Flinders University via EurekAlert

8 comments
nick101
Interesting, I hope it works.
guzmanchinky
I'm 50. I really hope this works as my 80 year old mother has horrible dementia.
Eli Willner
Where do you sign up to be test subject?
Jerry Plush
Contrary to this article, the amyloid plaques are not the cause of dementia. Drugs have already been developed that stop the plaques but did not work to stop the dementia. In that respect, amyloid plaques in the brain may be compared to oxidized cholesterol build-ups in the cardiovascular system. Studies show they are present at the scene but not responsible for the damage there. In fact they are present to heal and reduce the inflammation that is actually causing the damage to tissues. Statin drugs do reduce cholesterol levels, but do not increase lifespan.
Craig
I was under the impression that reducing these tangles was not proving to have an effect; that perhaps the protein tangles were in fact the body's response to whatever else was causing the Alzheimer's. It will be interesting what this will show if they can effectively remove them and see if there are positive results in brain function after all.
JohnM
It would be amazing if this works in people too.
Douglas Rogers
This might be the sleeper of the year!
Ralf Biernacki
IIUC correctly, vaccines work by activating the immune system against <i>cells</i> that present antigens. In other words, the vaccinated immune system will not "extract" these proteins from inside neurons; it will destroy the neurons containing these proteins. But that will not cure dementia---it will accelerate it. What am I missing?