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News & Trends - Biotechnology

Researchers hope dementia vaccine will be the breakthrough of the next decade

Health Industry Hub | January 8, 2020 |

A vaccine breakthrough for dementia may proceed to clinical trials. The AU-US research is looking to develop effective immunotherapy via a dual vaccine to remove ‘brain plaque’ and tau protein aggregates linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent success in bigenic mice models supports progression to human trials, the researchers say. A new paper in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy paves the way for more work in 2020, with medical researchers at the Institute for Molecular Medicine and University of California, Irvine (UCI) working with a successful vaccine formulated on adjuvant developed by Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky in South Australia.

The latest research aims to come up with a new treatment to remove accumulated beta-amyloid (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles composed of hyperphosphorylated tau, which together lead to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia. In 2019, there were 447,115 Australians living with dementia. By 2025, the total cost of dementia in Australia is predicted to increase to more than $18.7 billion. Major challenges in AD include the lack of effective treatments, reliable biomarkers, or preventive strategies.

Professor of the Institute for Molecular Medicine Anahit Ghochikyan and colleagues, Associate Professors Hvat Davtyan and Mathew Blurton-Jones from UCI, and other co-authors tested the universal MultiTEP platform-based vaccines formulated in the adjuvant developed at Professor Petrovsky’s Australian lab.

“Taken together, these findings warrant further development of this dual vaccination strategy based on the MultiTEP technology for ultimate testing in human Alzheimer’s disease,” the lead authors Professor Ghochikyan and Blurton-Jones conclude.

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Professor Petrovsky says the Advax adjuvant method is a pivotal system to help take the combination MultiTEP-based Aβ/tau vaccines therapy, as well as separate vaccines targeting these pathological molecules, to clinical trials within two years.

With funding from the US National Institutes of Health, the company Vaxine Pty Ltd was founded by Flinders University Professor of Medicine Nikolai Petrovsky to develop novel vaccine technologies.

“Our approach is looking to cover all bases and get past previous roadblocks in finding a therapy to slow the accumulation of Aβ/tau molecules and delay AD progression in a the rising number of people around the world,” says Professor Petrovsky, who will work in the US for the next three months.

A recent report on human monoclonal antibody, aducanumab, showed that high dose of this antibody reduced clinical decline in patients with early AD as measured by primary and secondary endpoints. However, it is obvious that it could not be used as a preventive measure in healthy subjects due to the need for frequent (monthly) administration of high concentrations of immunotherapeutic.

Professor Ghochikyan says there is a pressing need to keep searching for new preventive vaccine to delay AD and slow down progression of this devastating disease.

The new combined vaccination approach could potentially be used to induce strong immune responses to both of the hallmark pathologies of AD in a broad population base of vaccinated subjects with high MHC (major histocompatibility complex) class II gene polymorphisms, the new paper concludes.

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