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Alternative Aβ Immunotherapy Approaches for Alzheimer's Disease

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In a seminal report in 1999, Schenk and colleagues demonstrated that vaccination of a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD) with amyloid-β1-42 peptide (Aβ1-42) and adjuvant resulted in striking mitigation of AD-like pathology - giving rise to the field of AD immunotherapy. Later studies confirmed this result in other mouse models of AD and additionally showed cognitive improvement after Aβ vaccination. Based on these results, early developmental clinical trials ensued to immunize AD patients with Aβ1-42 plus adjuvant (so-called “active” Aβ immunotherapy; trade name AN-1792; Elan Pharmaceuticals, Dublin, Ireland). However, the phase IIa trial was halted after 6 % of patients developed aseptic meningoencephalitis. Despite occurrence of this adverse event, many individuals demonstrated high serum antibody titres to Aβ and histological evidence of clearance of the hallmark AD pathology, β-amyloid plaques. While raising justifiable safety concerns, these important results nonetheless demonstrated the feasibility of the active Aβ immunotherapy approach. This review focuses on alternative approaches to active Aβ vaccination that are currently in various stages of development - from pre-clinical studies in animal models to current clinical trials. Specifically, the focus is on those strategies that target inflammatory and immune aspects of AD, and can therefore be classified as immunotherapeutic in a broad sense.

Keywords: AN-1792; Alzheimer's disease; cytokine; immune; immunization; inflammation; vaccination

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-04-01

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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