A study about a vaccine that was designed to treat Parkinson’s disease indicates that there is support for continued development of the vaccine. There were hopeful results from a “boost” study.
Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 10 people over the age of 60. The average age of onset is 60, but people have been diagnosed as young as 18. The rate of misdiagnosis can be relatively high, especially when the diagnosis is made by a non-specialist. There is no objective test or biomarker for Parkinson’s disease.
The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. Researchers have identified a number of rare instances where Parkinson’s disease appears to be caused by a single genetic mutation. That genetic mutation can be passed from generation to generation. Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are the greatest contributor to Parkinson’s disease discovered to date. There may be environmental causes as well.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today. Michael J. Fox is an actor that you might recognize from the Back to the Future movies. He has Parkinson’s disease.
A “boost study” was funded with a $1.04 million grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The study built upon a previous study about a vaccine for Parkinson’s disease that was made by an Australian biotech company called AFFiRiS.
The first study included 24 participants with early-stage Parkinson’s. Each participant received four doses of a vaccine called PDO1A. That trial proved that the treatment was safe and showed that half of the participants created alpha-synuclein antibodies. Within a year, all the participants saw their level of those antibodies drop.
The follow-up study gave each participant one more dose of PDO1A one year later. The idea was to see if a “boost” would be safe and would raise antibody levels again. A total of 28 people participated in the “boost” study (22 from the first trial and six other people with Parkinson’s disease). AFFiRiS says that the trial was safe.
More research needs to be done to answer some questions that the study revealed. Overall, it appears that some people who receive the “boost” responded to it. The vaccine could potentially lead to a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
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