Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, is about to kick off a clinical trial of a new nasal vaccine meant to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's.
Research lead Howard Weiner, from the hospital's Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, called the trial a "remarkable milestone" in a statement.
"Over the last two decades, we’ve amassed preclinical evidence suggesting the potential of this nasal vaccine for AD," he said. "If clinical trials in humans show that the vaccine is safe and effective, this could represent a nontoxic treatment for people with Alzheimer’s, and it could also be given early to help prevent Alzheimer’s in people at risk."
The news comes after the Food and Drug Administration approved the first new Alzheimer's drug in 20 years, called Aduhelm.
The nasal vaccine, which is administered through the nose, stimulates the immune system using an experimental substance called Protollin, which has been used in other vaccines for many years.
Protollin can trigger the clearing of beta amyloid plaques, which are clumps of protein in the brain linked to Alzheimer's disease.
"This vaccine harnesses a novel arm of the immune system to treat AD," said Tanuja Chitnis, neurology professor at Brigham. "Research in this area has paved the way for us to pursue a whole new avenue for potentially treating not only AD, but also other neurodegenerative diseases."
The trial includes 16 participants between the ages of 60 and 85 who are experiencing early symptoms of Alzheimer's, with the aim of determining the safety of the vaccine.
The vaccine could lay the groundwork to arm ourselves against the most common cause of dementia — but that will all depend on years of clinical trials.