Novel Nasal Vaccine is Effective in Treating Mouse Model Alzheimer's Disease

Armen Hareyan's picture

Treating Alzheimer's Disease

Continuing a long-standing history in Alzheimer's disease-related study, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in an effort to better understand and treat the disease, have identified a novel new vaccine that has been shown to slow disease development in mouse models. According to the researchers, the next step is to bring this vaccine, which contains compounds known to be safe for humans, to clinical trial. Details of this research will be published on-line August 11, 2005 and will appear in the September 2005 print issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.


Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of senile dementia, affecting more than 18 million people worldwide. As the baby-boom generation ages, this number is expected to rise. To date, researchers have amassed evidence that the disease is caused by abnormal accumulation of a substance in the brain called beta-amyloid. This accumulation interferes with brain function and effects memory and cognition. A major goal in Alzheimer's research is to develop ways to remove this beta-amyloid build-up. One of the strategies for accomplishing this is to trigger the body's own immune system to clear the amyloid from the brain. Previous and current studies have focused on injectable vaccines to induce antibodies to clear the a-beta or direct intravenous administration of anti-a-beta antibody. These earlier trials of injectable a-beta were discontinued because of complications that led to encephalitis.

According to Howard L. Weiner, MD, a neurologist who is co-director of the Center for Neurologic Diseases at BWH and who headed the research team, "This basic science finding has tangible bedside implications. We hope to see this vaccine strategy studied in humans as quickly as possible to help determine if it can slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Until we have a cure or a way of preventing the disease, novel new strategies like this are critical to the development of a treatment regimen that will preserve quality of life for those who suffer from the disease."

Previous research found that a vaccine containing a-beta, while promising in mouse models in reducing a-beta, caused encephalitis. The new approach