Sep 20, 2017

Vaccine and Oral Medication Being Investigated to Stop Alzheimer’s Years Before It Begins

The goal of the study described below is to find an effective medication or vaccine for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.


The goal of the study is to find an effective medication or vaccine for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
By Alzheimer's Reading Room

The researchers are seeking adults 60 to 75 years of age with normal cognition who are interested in participating in a new study. Participants must undergo genetic testing for the apolipoprotein e4 (APOE4) gene, which is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The thinking here is if a drug can be found to treat those most likely to develop Alzheimer's disease; then, it might also work to treat or delay the onset of Alzheimer's across a broader array of patients.

If a treatment were developed that could delay the onset of Alzheimer's for 5 years it would reduce the number of patients living with Alzheimer's by 50 percent.


Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room
Email:

Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) are tackling the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States — Alzheimer’s disease — with a new study that intervenes decades before the disease develops.


By focusing on prevention, the study is taking a different approach to halting a disease that affects 47 million people worldwide.
“One of the challenges in developing new medications for Alzheimer’s is that researchers tend to test medications on people with more advanced Alzheimer’s, and the medications are simply not proving to be effective.  By intervening 10 to 12 years before Alzheimer’s manifests, we may be able to stop it before it begins or delay the symptoms.”
~ Lon Schneider, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
  • Adults 60 to 75 years of age with normal cognition who are interested in participating must undergo genetic testing for the apolipoprotein e4 (APOE4) gene, which is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
About half of people with Alzheimer’s disease carry the APOE4 gene, which can be inherited from either parent.


About 25 percent of the population carries one copy of the APOE4 gene, and about two to three percent of the population carries two copies, having received one from each parent.

To qualify for the study, participants must have two copies of the gene.

Qualifying participants may be randomized to either a vaccine, oral medication, placebo vaccine or placebo oral medication.

Both the vaccine and oral medication target amyloid beta — the main component in amyloid plaques in the brain and a culprit in Alzheimer’s — in two different ways:
  1. The vaccine helps the body develop antibodies against amyloid beta, 
  2. while the oral medication blocks an enzyme that creates amyloid beta.
Participants may receive the study medications for five to eight years.
“If we are able to show that the vaccine or oral medication is effective at delaying Alzheimer’s among people at higher risk, then this would strongly imply that we are on the right track for developing treatments. If we can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years, for example, the incidence of the illness would drop by half. It would also give individuals five more years without symptoms of the illness.”
Should the vaccine or oral medication prove to be effective in people with two copies of the APOE4 gene, then it would likely also be effective for other people at risk for Alzheimer’s, according to Schneider.

“Our clinician-scientists have been actively involved in clinical drug development for Alzheimer’s disease for more than 30 years. This study is a reflection of our continued efforts to conquer one of the greatest health challenges of our time.”


The school is joining approximately 90 institutions in North America, Europe and Australia in the Generation Study, which is testing a vaccine and oral medication to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s in older adults at increased risk for developing the disease.

More than 70 USC researchers across a range of disciplines are dedicated to the prevention, treatment and potential cure of Alzheimer’s.

For information about how to participate in the study, contact Nadine Diaz at (323) 442-7600 or ndiaz@usc.edu.

Related Content

How to Test Your Memory for Alzheimer's and Dementia

Early Signs of Dementia, Falls, Changes in Balance and Gait

How Do Alzheimer's Patients Die?

10 Symptoms of Early Stage Alzheimer's Disease

Topics

Coping with Alzheimer's

Help with Dementia Care

The Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009.

How to Get Answers To Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia

You are reading original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room

About the Keck School of Medicine of USC

Founded in 1885, the Keck School of Medicine of USC is among the nation’s leaders in innovative patient care, scientific discovery, education and community service.

In 2017, U.S. News World Report ranked the Keck School among the top 35 medical schools in the country.

For more information, go to keck.usc.edu.

The research referenced in this release is supported by the National Institutes of Health under award number 1UF1AG046150-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.