1. Researchers focused on a new set of ideas about how to stop Alzheimer’s.
The first generation of theories, which dominated the field for years, emphasized two proteins called amyloid and tau. These proteins cause plaques and tangles in the brain, clogging up and killing brain cells. The idea was to stop the plaques and tangles from forming. Bill hope’s these approaches pay off, but we have not seen much evidence that they will.
A new theory is that a patient’s brain cells break down because their energy producers (called mitochondria) wear out. Another is that brain cells break down because part of the immune system gets overactivated and attacks them.
This is a great example of how improving our understanding of biology will reduce both medical costs and human suffering.
The other trend this year is that the Alzheimer’s community focused on getting more and better access to data. We’re working with researchers to make it easier for them to share information from their studies broadly so that we can better understand questions like how the disease progresses.
Alzheimer’s research is up from $400 million a year to over $2 billion a year. There is also a big push to create better diagnostics.
Reliable early detection would enable far better recruitment patients for clinical trials. It is hard to find eligible people early enough in the disease’s progression who can participate in trials. It can take years to enroll enough patients. If we could find a way to pre-screen participants, we could start new trials more quickly.
UNS lead vaccine UB-311 is an anti-amyloid endobody vaccine for Alzheimer’s Disease currently in Phase II trials. UB-311 is fully synthetic and employs the UBITh platform technologies to target aggregated forms of beta-amyloid. UB-311 has successfully completed Phase I, demonstrating safety and tolerability, and is currently in Phase II trials. Preliminary data showed efficacy as measured in improvement or stabilization in all three cognitive tests conducted in the target sub-population.
United Neuroscience is developing a novel class of vaccines (endobody vaccines) that target aberrant proteins implicated in neurodegenerative diseases. Now it has strong preclinical evidence showing that one of its vaccines could hold promise in Parkinson’s disease.
The vaccine candidate, dubbed UB-312, targets alpha-synuclein proteins, which reside in healthy brains but can also clump together to form insoluble “fibrils” commonly seen in Parkinson’s.
Preclinical data showed that UB-312 selectively targeted and prevented accumulation of misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins in cell and animal models of Parkinson’s disease, as well as in post-mortem brain tissue from patients with Parkinson’s.