Swedish researchers report the successful trial of a vaccine that helps individuals develop protective antibodies that can prevent progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a neurological dementia disease in which the body attacks itself destroying brain cells. The disease is on the upswing with the World Health Organization declaring that dementia is the fastest growing global health epidemic of our age.
The prevailing hypothesis about the origin of Alzheimer’s involves APP (amyloid precursor protein), a protein that resides in the outer membrane of nerve cells. Instead of being normally decomposed, APP forms harmful beta-amyloid proteins, which accumulates as plaques and kills brain cells.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and the medicines in use can only mitigate the symptoms. In the hunt for a cure, scientists are following several avenues of attack, of which vaccination is currently the most popular.
The first human vaccination study, which was done almost a decade ago, revealed too many adverse reactions and was discontinued. The vaccine used in that study activated certain white blood cells (T cells), which started to attack the body’s own brain tissue.
The new treatment, which is presented in Lancet Neurology, involves active immunization, using a type of vaccine designed to trigger the body’s immune defense against beta-amyloid. In this second clinical trial on humans, the vaccine was modified to affect only the harmful beta-amyloid.
The researchers found that 80 per cent of the patients involved in the trials developed their own protective antibodies against beta-amyloid without suffering any side-effects over the three years of the study.
The researchers believe that this suggests that the CAD106 vaccine is a tolerable treatment for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Larger trials must now be conducted to confirm the CAD106 vaccine’s efficacy.
Source: Karolinska Institutet