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Clinical trial of nasal vaccine for Alzheimer's disease underway

The vaccine is designed to activate white blood cells found in the lymph nodes on the sides and back of the neck to migrate to the brain and trigger clearance of beta-amyloid plaques — one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's.

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Boston's Brigham and Women’s Hospital is set to begin a clinical trial that will test the safety and efficacy of a new vaccine delivered nasally intended to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The vaccine uses the immune modulator Protollin, an investigational intranasal agent that stimulates the immune system. Protollin is composed of proteins derived from bacteria and has been used safely in humans as an adjuvant for other vaccines.

It is designed to activate white blood cells found in the lymph nodes on the sides and back of the neck to migrate to the brain and trigger clearance of beta-amyloid plaques — one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's. I-Mab Biopharma (I-Mab) and Jiangsu Nhwa Pharmaceutical (NHWA) are responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialization of Protollin.

The trial represents the culmination of nearly 20 years of research led by Dr. Howard L. Weiner, co-director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at the Brigham.

"The launch of the first human trial of a nasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s is a remarkable milestone," said Weiner. "Over the last two decades, we’ve amassed preclinical evidence suggesting the potential of this nasal vaccine for AD. If clinical trials in humans show that the vaccine is safe and effective, this could represent a nontoxic treatment for people with Alzheimer’s, and it could also be given early to help prevent Alzheimer’s in people at risk."

The trial will be a single ascending dose (SAD) trial of 16 participants, all of whom will be enrolled from the Ann Romney Center. Trial participants will be between 60 and 85 years of age with early, symptomatic Alzheimer's Disease.

Participants will receive two doses of the nasal vaccine one week apart.

The Phase I trial’s primary objective will be to determine the safety and tolerability of the nasal vaccine. The research team will also measure the effect of nasal Protollin on participants’ immune response, including its effects on white blood cells, by examining cell surface markers, gene profiles and functional assays.