New vaccine delivered via the nose aims to ward off Alzheimer’s disease

Nail-vaccine carried out in previous clinical trials in China would prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by activating the brain’s T-cells

Researchers at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center plan to test a vaccine delivered via the nose to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The aim is to improve the progress of early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

The vaccine, which is expected to be tested on about 100 people in 2019, would activate the brain’s T-cells, which the scientists hope could trigger the production of the proteins of interest in the patients.

“We have the knowledge, the technology and, we think, the will to do it,” said Adam Butler, director of brain research at Boston Beth Israel.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, and there are no effective preventative treatments on the horizon. Researchers at Boston Beth Israel have been studying the approach for more than a decade, and have in the past conducted ground-breaking trials of human subjects. In 2013, the doctors delivered mice with herpes and herpes simplex virus-2 and found that exposing the brain’s T-cells to the virus prevented the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We have a singular view: we can make mice that can develop Alzheimer’s disease,” Butler said. “And those mice didn’t develop Alzheimer’s disease; the mice that did had T-cells from our vaccines.”

In the previous clinical trials, people volunteered to receive several vaccines of varying complexity. In one group, researchers used those in the earlier test to deliver treatments involving DNA, cerebrospinal fluid or either a nasal sprinter or a larger internal injection.

People were also divided into three groups for a placebo trial of a nasal spray vaccine based on a clot-fighter that would block the production of a protein believed to play a role in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

We only have three potential treatments: diet, immunotherapy and surgical interventions. But they are not going to work at any rate Dr Alessandro Verissimo

Each of these vaccines led to significant improvement on the patients’ memory performance. Scientists then trialled every element of this novel vaccine with both human and mouse brains.

The saline spray flu shot led to a progression of mild memory loss in mice. However, the scientists saw significant improvement on memory tests and improved functional speed in human subjects. The researchers also found a marked reduction in inflammation and damage in the brain.

In a different line of research, teams at Boston Beth Israel pioneered an immunotherapy vaccine called pre-ccategence-RF, based on an immune-stimulating protein called NovoCh10. This cocktail came out as a plausible candidate for a human vaccine, in combination with an antibody to a protein called CT7. This worked remarkably well in mice, and proved reversible in humans.

It would have been impossible to replicate all of the trials as clinical trials involve a carefully-controlled process of testing potential treatments on humans. People in trials of the vaccine would not have been receiving the parts of the vaccine currently undergoing clinical trials, because they are not safe or effective in human beings.

After many years of exhaustive research, the people at Boston Beth Israel are finally ready to try it on humans.

“There are just three potential treatments: diet, immunotherapy and surgical interventions,” said Dr Alessandro Verissimo, head of the Department of Neuroscience at Boston Beth Israel. “But they are not going to work at any rate. The only option is to prevent the disease. This is our approach: to do it using preventive drugs, and to empower the patient.”

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