HEALTH & AGING
EU-supported project eyes Alzheimer’s vaccine
An EU-funded project investigating a novel approach to developing
a vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease was recently given
the go-ahead and has successfully got underway. The project,
funded under the sixth Framework Programme, will build upon
an innovative approach to preventing Alzheimer’s developed
by the project coordinator, Austrian firm Affiris GmbH. The
recently approved project, known as MimoVax, will investigate
previously overlooked targets for the vaccine at the heart
of the condition affecting around 3.5 million Europeans.
MimoVax will centre on the use of natural immune reactions to
combat the causative agents of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer
patients’ brains contain plaques that are made up of a
protein sub-structures, or peptides, called amyloid beta. The
new research project will devise a vaccine which triggers an
immune response that targets amyloid beta. New diagnostic methods
are also being developed to accurately analyse the vaccine’s
disease was first described by German neurologist
Alois Alzheimer in 1906.
“Alzheimer’s is caused by deposits of beta-amyloid
peptides. These deposits - also known as plaques - are formed
when parts of a human protein detach from the cell membrane
of nerve cells and clump together. A high proportion of these
peptides, the so called beta-amyloids, consist of 40 or 42 amino
acids. The first vaccine developed by Affiris targets precisely
these types of peptides and helps to break down the plaques,”
says project manager Dr Frank Mattner of Affiris GmbH.
In addition to the better-known beta-amyloids, MimoVax will
be the first project to attempt to signal out a rarer, altered
form of peptide with a different amino acid line-up.
MimoVax’s approach is an extension of an innovative strategy
developed by Affiris GmbH to avoid autoimmune rejection of the
vaccine’s active properties. By carefully selecting the
correct peptides for the vaccine, Affiris GmbH’s mimotope
technology enables a precise immune response to focus only on
the problem proteins, leaving healthy portions untouched.
Throughout the project, the consortium will develop pre-clinical and the first clinical analyses of the vaccine. Project partners will further discuss a concrete agenda and research strategy at a working conference in Vienna next year.
In total, the MimoVax project brings together twenty scientists
from four high tech industrial companies, two university institutes
and one clinic hailing from three countries: Austria, Germany
and Spain. The research is funded as a specific targeted research
project (STREP) to the tune of €2.4 million.
sciences, genomics & biotechnology for health