A biotech company founded by a mother-and-daughter team has developed what could potentially be the world’s first Alzheimer’s vaccine.
Dr. Chang Yi Wang, Ph.D., a prolific bio-inventor known for her works in the fields of immunology and biochemistry teamed up with her daughter Mei Mei Hu and son-in-law Louis Reese to create United Neuroscience four years ago.
Mei Mei, a former management consultant for a private firm, urged her mother to focus all her efforts on working on an Alzheimer’s vaccine through the company.
In January, United Neuroscience Inc. announced the first promising results from a pilot clinical trial on an Alzheimer’s vaccine called UB-311 in 42 human patients, reports Bloomberg.
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The vaccine contains synthetic versions of amino acid chains that trigger antibodies to attack Alzheimer’s protein in the blood. What makes Wang’s vaccine different from previous attempts is that it attacks the Alzheimer’s protein without any adverse side effects. According to Yi’s research team, the vaccine can delay the onset of the disease by five years.
“We were able to generate some antibodies in all patients, which is unusual for vaccines,” Yi tells Wired. “We’re talking about almost a 100 percent response rate. So far, we have seen an improvement in three out of three measurements of cognitive performance for patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease.”
Alzheimer’s, a terrible disease caused by plaque deposits that develop in brain tissue, initially deprives patients of their personality and memory before eventually leading to death.
The near impossibility of clearing out the deposits from the tissue has made it difficult for scientists to find a cure. In the decades of research, scientists have been focusing on early detection and prevention.
Over 200 unsuccessful attempts to find a cure for the disease have been made so far and the clinical trial termination rate is 98%.
“You’d want to see larger numbers, but this looks like a beneficial treatment,” Aston University Research Centre for Healthy Ageing director James Brown was quoted as saying. “This looks like a silver bullet that can arrest or improve symptoms and, if it passes the next phase, it could be the best chance we’ve got.”
United Neuroscience, which aims to create a host of vaccines that will be administered to protect people from chronic illness, has already invested $100 million developing its vaccine platform. The company is currently working on the next clinical trial of the vaccine.