The first human Alzheimer’s vaccine trial in the UK is being resurrected in a study launched by the Alzheimer?s Research Trust. The charity hopes it will indicate whether immunisation against Alzheimer’s is an effective method of tackling the disease.
The three-year project, based at the University of Southampton, is studying the effects of Elan Pharmaceuticals?s vaccine on eighty UK Alzheimer?s patients who were given the drug in 2000. Researchers will measure the long-term effects the vaccine has had on the patients? cognitive function and assess whether features of the disease such as memory loss have been halted or reversed.
Preliminary results from the trial showed the vaccine successfully cleared beta amyloid protein, which all Alzheimer?s patients have an excess of, from the brain.
Professor James Nicoll, Professor of Neuropathology at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, and Lead Researcher on the project said:
?This study offers us a unique insight into whether immunisation against Alzheimer?s is an effective solution to this devastating disease. We know that vaccination can reverse the processes of Alzheimer?s to some degree ? our challenge is to understand these processes better and translate them into real benefits for patients.?
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer?s Research Trust, said:
?The prospect of a vaccine to protect against Alzheimer?s is a realistic one because it is a disease, and not a normal part of ageing. Immunisation is an exciting area and we are delighted to be funding this groundbreaking study, which will help us continue our progress in understanding the disease and finding new approaches to treatment and prevention.?
?The number of people with Alzheimer?s is increasing rapidly but research funding is not keeping pace. The Government needs to make Alzheimer?s disease a priority so that we can fund more of the urgent research that is needed.?