Vaccine to treat Alzheimer’s patients progresses to next stage of trials

A vaccine which could be used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease has reached the next stage of clinical trials.

ACI-24, developed by Swiss-based pharmaceutical company AC Immune, will be tested among patients with a mild or moderate form of the condition.

Charity Alzheimer’s Research UK said the vaccine represents an “interesting approach” to treating the degenerative disease.

The jab has progressed through Phase I trials, which examine the safety of a drug in a small group of people.

The Phase II trial is expected to be conducted in several European countries, including the UK, and the first patient has been enrolled, AC Immune said.

Dr Carol Routledge, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “While it is fantastic to see this potential treatment making progress in Phase I clinical trials, we still need to see extensive Phase II and III testing before we can tell whether this experimental drug is safe and effective for people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

“The ACI-24 vaccine is designed to alert the body’s own immune system to the hallmark Alzheimer’s protein, amyloid, and trigger a response that could help to clear the protein from the brain.

“This is an interesting approach and with no treatments currently able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, it is important that researchers come at the disease from as many different angles as possible.”

ACI-24 is also being tested as a treatment for cognitive decline in people with Down’s syndrome, but trials are at an earlier stage.

Dr Routledge (pictured) said: “It often surprises people to learn about the link between Alzheimer’s disease and Down’s syndrome but almost everyone with Down’s syndrome will have Alzheimer’s processes under way in their brains by the time they reach their 50s.

“People with Down’s syndrome are in a unique position where they can be treated with potential Alzheimer’s drugs before their dementia symptoms start to show, when treatments are most likely to be effective.”

Professor Andrea Pfeifer, chief executive of AC Immune, said the company is “delighted” with the progress of the vaccine.

She said: “In addition to the development in Alzheimer’s disease, it is currently the only clinical-stage vaccine targeting the associated Abeta-induced cognitive decline in people with Down syndrome.

“Vaccines are potentially an important option for the treatment and prevention of neuro-degenerative diseases and are a key asset in our pipeline.”

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