AFFiRiS Develops Parkinson's Vaccine

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AFFiRiS has started pre-clinical development of a Parkinson's vaccine. The vaccine, known as PD01, can be used to target a specific protein that is closely associated with the causes of this degenerative neurological disease. Excellent product candidates from discovery studies have prompted the company to file a patent application and proceed immediately with development.

Similarly positive results from external assessments impelled the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) to provide considerable financial funding for the project. The vaccine is based on the company's AFFITOME technology, which, among other things, has already been used to develop two Alzheimer's vaccines, which are currently both in phase I clinical testing.

AFFiRiS, based in Vienna, Austria, today announced the start of the pre-clinical development of its first Parkinson's vaccine PD01. The vaccine will be investigated for efficacy ("proof of concept") in Parkinson models. On successful conclusion of this preclinical evaluation, initial clinical testing could start in 2010/11. The Parkinson's vaccine specifically targets the alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) protein, which is considered to be a key contributory element in Parkinson's disease.

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Although all details of the disease are not yet fully understood, there is clear scientific evidence that the concentration and enrichment of alpha-syn in the brain are contributing factors in the progression of Parkinson's disease. Therefore, reducing the alpha-syn burden in the brain should have a positive impact on the course of the disease - a hypothesis that was recently confirmed by the results of U.S. researchers working on animal models.

The Parkinson's vaccine from AFFiRiS has been developed to delivery efficacy in combination with an excellent safety profile, as Dr. Walter Schmidt, CEO of AFFiRiS, explains: "Alpha-syn is an attractive target for treating the cause - not just the symptoms - of Parkinson's. However, it is important to bear in mind that alpha-syn is a human protein belonging to a family of proteins with very similar structures like e.g. beta-syn, an essential neuroprotective factor. Therefore, treatment to reduce alpha-syn must not lead to the reduction of related proteins, such as beta-syn. Our AFFITOME technology enables us to develop vaccines that induce antibody specifically targeting alpha-syn only."

Frank Mattner, Chief Scientific Officer at AFFiRiS, adds: "The great potential offered by our AFFITOME technology has been confirmed by external experts, who appraised our development of a Parkinson's vaccine for the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). Their assessment prompted the FFG to provide considerable financial support for this project."

The AFFITOME technology from AFFiRiS provides a means of targeting very specific structures of human rogue proteins with patented product candidates. AFFiRiS has already succeeded in developing two vaccines and a hemodialysis program for the treatment of Alzheimer's. These therapies only target specific structures found on harmful fragments of beta-amyloid, which is said to be responsible for Alzheimer's. Both Alzheimer's vaccines are currently being trialled on Alzheimer patients. In October, a licence option agreement worth up to EUR 430 million was concluded with GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals for their further clinical development market launch and sales.

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