The Michael J. Fox Foundation is jazzed enough about the trial to have committed one and a half million dollars to it. This support may in part explain Fox’s comments several weeks ago, when he suggested that the most likely opportunity for progress against PD would probably NOT emerge from stem cell research, which for years has been a primary focus.
This new study is small: no more than 32 people. But it’s an important first step in moving vaccine studies from rodent to human participants. On June 5, AFFiRiS AG – a biotechnology company based in Austria – announced the start of Phase 1 in its study of the PD vaccine “PD01A.” By introducing antibodies that target the protein alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn), the new vaccine aims to disrupt and neutralize the possible toxic effect of this clumping protein – which seems to be a pathological “hallmark” of PD. (During his interview, Fox repeatedly mentioned the promise of working with “biomarkers.” Alpha-syn accumulation is such a biomarker.)
Going Beyond Dopamine Replacement
This technology delivers not only a single vaccine for the treatment of a certain disease but a whole pool of product candidates with excellent safety profiles and exactly fine tuned specificities. Therefore, we apply our strategy of ‘clinical maturation,’ meaning that we investigate several vaccines against a certain disease in clinical testing to ensure that the best vaccine for humans will be developed.
It will be fascinating to watch this trial – small as it is — play out. Are we on an important new road toward a real treatment for Parkinson’s?