Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are testing an Alzheimer’s vaccine on people.
The nasally administered vaccine, called Protollin, is being tested on a group of 16 people with early Alzheimer’s disease, between the ages of 60 to 85 years.
“This (vaccine) is using some proteins to stimulate the body’s own immune cells to clear away the beta-amyloid, which is really the problematic protein in Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Tanuja Chitnis, a neurologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.
Amyloid is a protein that builds up in organs and can affect the heart, kidneys, liver, and nervous system.
The vaccine is showing positive results, but more testing is needed to understand dosages and any implications.
“We found that this drug is safe and well-tolerated,” Chitnis said. “We’re currently working on immunological studies to prove that the vaccine works in the way that we think it does.”
If successful, this vaccine could drastically change the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s, Chitnis said, allowing anyone to easily administer the drug. The Alzheimer Society of Canada says about 1 in 5 people have experienced caring for someone living with dementia.
“Our results suggested quite safe and patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, and we’re hoping that it will prevent patients from progressing into those later and more problematic stages of disease in which they can’t take care of themselves,” Chitnis said.
Another Alzheimer’s vaccine has concluded trial results from the U.K., where a randomized placebo-controlled study showed there was a 27 per cent less decline in memory after 18 months.
Chitnis believes more research on Alzheimer’s vaccines is “very exciting.”
“We’re seeing a lot of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease,” she said. “Our approach is somewhat different, again, using the body’s own immune cells to actually activate and clear away amyloid.”
When asked about the trial, Joshua Armstrong, a research scientist with the Alzheimer Society of Canada, said the group would be watching for results.
“This vaccine-like approach of using a nasal spray to activate the body’s immune system is a novel and innovative way of potentially addressing the beta amyloid plaques that build up in the brains of people living with Alzheimer’s disease,” Armstrong said in an email to CTVNews.ca Friday.
“If this treatment passes this Phase 1 trial, which examines the safety and tolerability in just 16 individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, we will be following the future trials of Protollin to see if they result in the reduction of amyloid plaques and the slowing or reversal of cognitive decline in a larger group of patients.”