Novartis, Cytos Alzheimer's vax shows immune response

Alzheimer's disease is distressing for the people with the disorder, as well as for their friends and family. There are a number of drugs available, but they only treat the symptoms without having any effect on the disease itself, and there is no cure. CAD106, a vaccine co-developed by Novartis ($NVS) and Cytos that targets the amyloid β peptide, has shown early hints of immune responses in a clinical trial in people with Alzheimer's disease. This vaccine could have potential to slow the development of the disease.

Amyloid β peptide is one of the main "ingredients" of the plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, and targeting it could slow the development of the disease. The Swedish Phase I trial was led by the Karolinska Institutet and involved 58 people with Alzheimer's disease who were given the vaccine at one of two dose levels or a placebo. At the lower dose, 67% of patients showed antibodies against amyloid β, and more than 80% had a response with the higher dose of the vaccine over the three years of the study. The study was published in Lancet Neurology.

The vaccine targets a fragment of amyloid β, generating antibodies against the protein without triggering cell-mediated immunity. No one in the trial developed meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and the membranes around the brain), which was the side effect that led to the discontinuation of a trial for Elan's Alzheimer's disease vaccine, AN1792, back in 2002. The researchers believe that this means the CAD106 vaccine is a tolerable treatment for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's, and they suggest the need for larger trials to confirm the vaccine's efficacy.

According to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, the vaccine could cut cases of Alzheimer's disease by half. The newspaper quotes Thomas Wisniewski of the New York School of Medicine: "This new vaccine comes as a promising addition to what will probably be a long road to the ultimate successful immunotherapy."

- read the press release
- see the abstract
- check out the article in the U.K. Daily Mail