Summary: Clinical trials for a preventative treatment for dementia was successful in mouse models. Researchers say human trials will begin in two years.
Source: Flinders University
A preventive treatment for dementia may proceed to clinical trials after successful animal testing.
The US-led research is looking to develop effective immunotherapy via a new 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 in years to come, 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 leading cause of age-related dementia, affecting about 5.7 million people in the US. 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.
The possible new therapies were tested in bigenic mice with mix Aβ and tau pathologies.
“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.
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 – perhaps within two years.
“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.
Several promising drug candidates have failed in clinical trials so the search for new preventions or therapies continues.
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.
Testing a MultiTEP-based combination vaccine to reduce Aβ and tau pathology in Tau22/5xFAD bigenic mice
Background Alzheimer disease (AD) is characterized by the accumulation of beta-amyloid (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles composed of hyperphosphorylated tau, which together lead to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. Current therapeutic approaches have primarily aimed to reduce pathological aggregates of either Aβ or tau, yet phase 3 clinical trials of these approaches have thus far failed to delay disease progression in humans. Strong preclinical evidence indicates that these two abnormally aggregated proteins interact synergistically to drive downstream neurodegeneration. Therefore, combinatorial therapies that concurrently target both Aβ and tau might be needed for effective disease modification.
Methods A combinatorial vaccination approach was designed to concurrently target both Aβ and tau pathologies. Tau22/5xFAD (T5x) bigenic mice that develop both pathological Aβ and tau aggregates were injected intramuscularly with a mixture of two MultiTEP epitope vaccines: AV-1959R and AV-1980R, targeting Aβ and tau, respectively, and formulated in AdvaxCpG, a potent polysaccharide adjuvant. Antibody responses of vaccinated animals were measured by ELISA, and neuropathological changes were determined in brain homogenates of vaccinated and control mice using ELISA and Meso Scale Discovery (MSD) multiplex assays.
Results T5x mice immunized with a mixture of Aβ- and tau-targeting vaccines generated high Aβ- and tau-specific antibody titers that recognized senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles/neuropil threads in human AD brain sections. Production of these antibodies in turn led to significant reductions in the levels of soluble and insoluble total tau, and hyperphosphorylated tau as well as insoluble Aβ42, within the brains of bigenic T5x mice.
Conclusions AV-1959R and AV-1980R formulated with AdvaxCpG adjuvant are immunogenic and therapeutically potent vaccines that in combination can effectively reduce both of the hallmark pathologies of AD in bigenic mice. Taken together, these findings warrant further development of this vaccine technology for ultimate testing in human AD.