DNA Vaccine Protects Against Alzheimer’s Toxic Proteins
Two studies from the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute demonstrate in animals how a vaccine containing DNA of the toxic beta-amyloid protein elicits a different immune response that may be safe for humans.
The vaccine, which will likely be tested further by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is on a shortlist of promising antibody treatments that may eventually help settle a high-stakes debate of whether amyloid is a vital target for preventing or curing Alzheimer’s.
“If you look at the hard reality, the odds are against us because so many therapies have failed through the years. But this has potential,” said Dr. Roger Rosenberg, co-author of the studies and Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Dr. Rosenberg notes that earlier research established that antibodies significantly reduce amyloid buildup in the brain, but he needed to find a safe way to introduce these into the body. A vaccine developed elsewhere showed promise in the early 2000s, but when tested in humans it caused brain swelling in some patients.
Dr. Rosenberg’s idea was to start with DNA coding for amyloid and inject it into the skin rather than the muscle. The injected skin cells make the amyloid protein, and the body responds by producing new antibodies that inhibit the buildup of amyloid, which some scientists blame for destroying neurons.