Dr. Howard Weiner has spent 20 years on research leading up to this moment: the "landmark first human trial" of an Alzheimer's disease nasal vaccine. Sixteen people ranging in age from 60 to 85 will get two doses over the course of two weeks at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston as part of the small, phase I clinical trial, which WBUR reports will begin next month. The goal with this go-round: to determine the proper dosage and safety of the vaccine. If all goes well, larger subsequent trials would evaluate its effectiveness.
The vaccine is intended to both prevent Alzheimer's and slow its progress, reports CBS News. It relies on Protollin, a substance "designed to activate white blood cells found in the lymph nodes on the sides and back of the neck to migrate to the brain and trigger clearance of beta amyloid plaques—one of the hallmarks" of the disease, per the hospital, which adds that Protollin has been safely used in other vaccines. WCVB describes Protollin as "composed of proteins derived from bacteria" and able to "[stimulate] the immune system."
Weiner calls the trial a "remarkable milestone" in a press release. "Over the last two decades, we've amassed preclinical evidence suggesting the potential of this nasal vaccine for AD. 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." (Read more discoveries stories.)