Affiris' Parkinson's therapeutic vax starts clinical trials

Parkinson's disease is an incurable disorder that affects the brain and nervous system, leading to problems with movement and cognition. Available treatments help the symptoms but do not slow the progression of the disease; however, a therapeutic vaccine that has begun clinical trials with developer Affiris could modify the disease process itself.

Mutant forms of a protein called alpha-synuclein clump together in the brain and are thought to be involved in the development of Parkinson's disease. The vaccine is known as PD01A, and it targets alpha-synuclein using Affiris' AFFITOME technology, which creates a pool of peptides that mimic the original antigen but can be tweaked to improve efficacy.

The trial, in Vienna, will involve up to 32 patients and will look at the safety and tolerability of PD01A, and the company says that it is the first trial of a Parkinson's disease vaccine anywhere in the world. According to Dr. Walter Schmidt, CEO of Affiris: "It is a so-called 'first-in-man' and 'first-in-kind' trial, because PD01A is the first medication worldwide aiming for clinical efficacy by modulating the metabolic pathway of alpha-syn."

The project has received $1.5 million from the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), and, according to Schmidt, this is "one of the few projects outside of the USA considered worthy of support by the foundation."

- read the press release