A nasal vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease tested in the United States

Posted on Nov 27, 2021, 10:01 AM

Alzheimer’s disease may be the best known and most widespread dementia, to date there is no treatment that can cure or prevent it. But the research is on. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a nasal vaccine is being tested.

In a press release published on November 16, the American hospital announced the launch of a clinical trial aimed at testing “the safety and efficacy of a new nasal vaccine intended to prevent and slow the progression of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease “.

After tests on mouse models, their “nasal spray” will therefore be tested in humans, “a remarkable step”, said the professor of neurology Howard L. Weiner, leader of the project. “Over the past two decades, we have accumulated preclinical evidence suggesting the potential of this nasal Alzheimer’s vaccine,” he added.

A vaccine to destroy “senile plaques”

The vaccine works by stimulating the immune system and activating white blood cells in the lymph nodes. The stimulated cells then travel to the blood and must help clear beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

Because in all Alzheimer’s patients, we systematically find the formation of protein plaques, called amyloid (and also called “senile plaques), which compress neurons and destroy them in the long term.

“Over the past 20 years, there has been growing evidence that the immune system plays a key role in the elimination of beta-amyloid. Our vaccine harnesses a new arm of the immune system to treat Alzheimer’s disease, ”said Tanuja Chitnis, professor of neurology at Boston Hospital and principal investigator of the trial, quoted in the statement.

The vaccine is based on an adjuvant called Protollin, composed of proteins derived from bacteria and which has already “been used safely in humans as an adjuvant for other vaccines,” said the team of scientists. The study is also funded by I-Mab Biopharma (I-Mab) and Jiangsu Nhwa Pharmaceutical (NHWA), which are responsible for the development, manufacture and marketing of Protollin, notes the “New York Post”.

Tests for six months before phase 2

In the trial, 16 participants aged 60 to 85 with early symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease will receive two doses of the nasal vaccine one week apart. The main objective of this phase I trial will be to determine the safety and tolerability of the vaccine. The research team will also measure the effect of Protollin on the participants’ immune response.

“We’re going to do blood tests to see which dose best stimulates the immune system,” Weiner said. “It will last about six months, then we will start a trial on 150 patients, who will be treated for a year, probably once a month.”

Last June, the Biogen laboratory was the first to obtain authorization to market a drug against Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Its treatment, called Aduhelm, also targets amyloid proteins, but through a monoclonal antibody. However, its therapeutic interest is not unanimous in the scientific community.

Described for the first time by the German doctor Alois Alzheimer in 1906, Alzheimer’s disease, which sees the patient irreparably lose his memory and his capacity for judgment, affects 15% of people over 80 years of age. It can also occur much earlier. It is estimated today in France at more than 65,000 the number of patients under 65 years of age with the disease.

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