Dr. Siegel: Alzheimer's disease -- Why results from a vaccine and a test offer concrete reasons for hope

Fox News | 1/23/2019 | Marc Siegel
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Today there are new reasons to be hopeful about the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

First, according to research published in Nature Medicine, the disease may be detectable by a blood test 16 years before the onset of symptoms. Such a test, which detects certain proteins that may indicate early stages of the disease, would allow doctors to identify those individuals most at risk of developing it.

Alzheimer - Vaccine - UB - Company - United

Second, there is a new Alzheimer’s vaccine known as UB 311, produced by a small company, United Neuroscience, in Dublin, Ireland, that has just delivered promising results in phase two clinical trials in humans.

In phase two trials, which are blinded, one group receives the study drug while the other group may receive a placebo. The numbers in this trial are small – just 42 subjects with mild cognitive impairment (pre-Alzheimer) – but the results are impressive, especially considering that the vaccine was both well-tolerated and effective.

Response - Vaccine - Percent - Brain - Inflammation

The response to the vaccine was a whopping 96 percent. It didn’t cause the brain inflammation that previous vaccines did, and it did reduce the amount of amyloid plaque that had built up in the brain. Subjects also performed better on tests of thinking and memory.

A longer-term extension of this trial is next, and if successful, I think we will see this vaccine in widespread use sometime soon, not just for those with early Alzheimer’s disease, but for those at risk as well.

Vaccines - Work - Immune - System - Antibodies

Vaccines work by triggering the immune system to make antibodies against a certain protein often found on the surface of an invading virus or bacteria. In the case of Alzheimer’s, the protein (beta amyloid) is made by the body itself. It is a clunky protein that gums up the brain. UB 311 has been shown to produce high amounts of antibodies against amyloid.

According to the National Institute on Aging,...
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