Preclinical Study Finds New Vaccine that Could Halt the Progression of Alzheimer’s

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Neuroscientists have created a new scientist that could help halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most common age-related neurological disorders. The therapeutic vaccine uses the body’s immune cells to target the toxic Aβ molecules that accumulate harmfully in the brain.

The preclinical study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease conducted on mouse models showed that an antigen-presenting dendritic vaccine with a specific antibody response to oligomeric Aβ might be safer and offer clinical benefit in treating Alzheimer’s disease. The vaccine, called E22W42 DC, uses immune cells known as dendritic cells (DC) loaded with a modified Aβ peptide as the antigen.

Autoimmune Reaction

The lead author Chuanhai Cao, Ph.D., of the University of South Florida Health (USF Health), said his team focused on overcoming impaired immunity, excess inflammation, and other complications that interfere with developing a therapeutic Alzheimer’s vaccine. Dr. Cao stated: 

“This therapeutic vaccine uses the body’s own immune cells to target the toxic Aβ molecules that accumulate harmfully in the brain. And, importantly, it provides strong immunomodulatory effects without inducing an unwanted, vaccine-associated autoimmune reaction in the aging mice.”

Previous studies were conducted earlier targeting all anti-amyloid treatments for the neurodegenerative disease, but they all failed. These included a potential vaccine trial targeting Aβ (AN-1792), which was halted in 2002 after the participants developed the central nervous system’s inflammation. According to Dr. Cao: 

“Inflammation is a primary symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, so any possible treatment with neural inflammation as a side effect essentially pours gas on the fire […] a next-generation anti-amyloid vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease would produce “long-lasting, moderate antibody levels needed to prevent Aβ oligomers from further aggregating into destructive Alzheimer’s plaques, without over-stimulating the immune systems of elderly people.”

Age-Related Impairments

During Dr. Cao’s study, the team tested the vaccine formulated using modified Aβ-sensitized DC derived from the mouse’s bone marrow. They found that the new vaccine was able to slow memory impairment in mice with the disease. The mice that were given the experimental vaccine showed significantly fewer errors in working memory. He explained:

“Because we use dendritic cells to generate antibodies, this vaccine can coordinate both innate and acquired immunity to potentially overcome age-related impairments of the immune system.”

Strengthen the Immune System

Alzheimer’s disease is progressive disorders that cause brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral, and social skills that disrupts a person’s ability to function independently. 

Memory loss is one of the characteristic symptoms of Alzheimer’s, making it difficult to learn and retain new information. The study authors also said the vaccine developed for patients with Alzheimer’s could potentially strengthen the immune system of older patients. The authors concluded:

“Though the E22W42-sensitized DC vaccine is being developed for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, it can potentially help strengthen the immune system of elderly patients (with other age-related disorders) as well.”