Another step towards the Alzheimer's vaccine: finally we begin to learn to take full advantage of our immune system
For years, the main stumbling block to Alzheimer's vaccines has been that the immune system is complicated. Until now, even the most promising vaccination attempts ran into the same pitfall: what worked well in some patients produced side effects (some very serious) in others. However, new news is coming.
According to Bloomberg reports, United Neuroscience appears to have achieved a success rate of almost 96% in a small clinical trial with its new UB-311 vaccine. It is not the cure for Alzheimer's, far from it: but the absence of serious side effects and improvements in brain function are signs that allow us to believe again in the possibility of a vaccine.
What does UB-311 do? The United Neuroscience vaccine stimulates the immune system to attack amyloid levels, which, according to most experts, is the main cause of the disease. In this way, it not only reduces protein clumping, but also tries to reverse some damage.
What phase are we in? However, the results are still very preliminary. We are talking about a phase II trial with 42 patients in the early stages of the disease. The size of the study (and its design) only allows us to conclude that it is relatively safe and that it has some positive effect. It also allows us to take the next step: find out if it is better than the drugs we currently have. Something that doesn't always happen
What problems have you got? Quite a few, actually. The main one is that the vaccine, as I say, focuses only on amyloid. Something that is fine if the amyloid theory turns out to be true. Other hypotheses focused on the tau protein or inflammation also accumulate considerable scientific evidence and such a closed approach may not be effective.
One more element: There are many vaccines on the way. So many. Alzheimer's, as one of the great diseases of the future of rich countries, has become a highly studied field. The problem is that trying these types of vaccines is very expensive. Much more than a company like United Neuroscience can afford. Although the results are promising and the company's conduct seems correct, only that element should lead us to temper our optimism. For what it could happen.