An Alzheimer’s Vaccine: Not far From Becoming Reality
Alzheimer’s is a chronic degenerative disease that destroys many important mental functions, such as memory, thinking, behaviour, and learning capability. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s is 50% to 75%, mainly affecting people aged ≥ 65 years. The progression of this disease is up to the extent that the affected persons lose the ability to start a conversation and giving any response to the environment.
How Alzheimer’s develop?
The question arises that how this disease worsens so much that there is no effective cure for it. The answer is that Alzheimer’s targets the brain cells at an early age and produces signs or symptoms after many years. These brain cells are involved in many important bodily functions such as thinking, learning, remembering, sleeping, hearing, smelling, etc. Brain cells combine and act like small factories to do so. They receive input, process response by communicating with other cells and execute it in seconds. In Alzheimer’s, deposits of two abnormal structures called plaques (a protein fragment called beta-amyloid), and tangles (fibres of another protein called tau) accumulate in brain cells to destroy some parts of these small factories. This results in destroying the chain executing other related tasks. Thus, the body loses the ability to do the job properly and, the active cells eventually die, causing irreversible malformation in the brain. This causes symptoms of Alzheimer’s, i.e., memory loss, personality changes, problems carrying out daily activities, etc.
Is there any kind of treatment available for Alzheimer’s?
Due to the irreversible malformation, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s till now. However, the treatment for symptoms is provided, and the risk for relapse of these symptoms is always there. So, that treatment is still required, which can treat the disease in better ways or prevent it from developing or even delay its onset.
Potential treatment for Alzheimer’s
Many pharmaceutical companies are devoting their efforts in developing a potential treatment. One pharmaceutical company “United Neuroscience” has successfully prepared an Alzheimer’s vaccine known as UB-311, which is not far from becoming a reality. This Alzheimer’s vaccine is a novel synthetic peptide vaccine that fights against the disease by blocking the beta-amyloid protein deposits, the initiating step of Alzheimer’s. UB-311 also helps to boost the immune system of the affected individuals to fight against the disease with more power. This vaccine was initially tested on small animals, i.e., baboons and macaques, and then on adult macaques, which helped to evaluate that this vaccine boosts the immune system of the animals and produces proteins which prevent the harmful toxic effects of beta-amyloid protein deposits and also remove these deposits from the brain cells. UB-311 has also successfully completed the Phase I study in which UB-311 was tested as a single liquid dose injected to 19 human participants, and the observations suggested that it has a potential impact on cognition and memory without any serious side-effects.
Currently, this vaccine is in Phase II testing and in January 2019, positive top-line preliminary results of this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study were presented. The positive results show 96% response rate, its safety and capability to boost the immune system, which supported to further development of this vaccine in advanced stage (Phase III) in a larger population with Alzheimer’s. It is hopeful that UB-311 will produce expected results and will become the probable reality in Alzheimer’s world. Besides UB-311, the company’s other compound targeting tau protein is in the pre-clinical phase for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.