April 24, 2010

Alzheimer’s Vaccine Closer To Reality

The Austrian biotechnology firm Affiris announced Friday that a new vaccine against Alzheimer's will soon be tested in six European countries.

Affiris said in a statement that about 420 patients will be recruited to take part in clinical trials in Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany and Slovakia.

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline's AD02 vaccine was already tested for safety and tolerability over the past year.

The company said that clinical trials will now test its efficacy and expect results as early as 2012.

AD02 is meant to prevent the building up of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, which causes degradation of nerve cells and can be a crucial role in the cause of Alzheimer's disease.

Till Jelitto, a spokesman for Affiris, told AFP that the vaccine works by causing the body to attack these plaques by producing more antibodies.

He added that these antibodies are meant to attack only the part of the beta-amyloid protein that causes the plaques.

This would reduce a patient's risk because the protein already exists in healthy individuals.

The current vaccine is aimed at treating patents already affected by the disease.  However, Jelitto said the technology could also be used to manufacture a preventative vaccine.

Tests for a first vaccine against Alzheimer's disease were conducted in 2001 in the U.S. and Europe.  However, it had to be cut short after serious side effects started to emerge.

In 2005, another vaccine was tested in Sweden.

Alzheimer's disease still has no cure and affects about six million people in Europe every year. 

Affiris is also working on vaccines against Parkinson's and atherosclerosis.


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