A new treatment aimed at clearing abnormal clumps of protein called tau tangles from the brain in Alzheimer’s disease is entering an early-stage clinical trial in the UK. The treatment, known as ACI-35, is being tested in a clinical trial run by a Swiss company called AC Immune. The trial will be led by Prof Roy Jones, a consultant geriatrician based in Bath, and run across sites in Bath, Liverpool and Finland.
Tau is a protein found normally in the body which plays a role in maintaining the structure of cells. In Alzheimer’s, tau behaves abnormally – clumping into ‘tangles’ which are thought to damage nerve cells and lead to the symptoms of dementia. ACI-35 is a vaccine that stimulates the body’s immune system to clear the abnormal tau and the new trial will test whether it’s safe in people with Alzheimer’s.
Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:
“It’s always promising to see potential new Alzheimer’s treatments entering clinical trials in people. Tau is a hallmark protein in Alzheimer’s and there is much anticipation about how effective a treatment blocking the build-up of tau could be for people with the disease. Clinical trials are the ultimate test for any new treatment but it can take many years of testing to show that a potential new approach is safe and effective.
“This early-stage clinical trial aims to look at how safe the vaccine is and we will need to wait for the results to see whether this is a promising approach to be taken forward into later stage trials. Increases in research funding are vital to underpin new advances in treatment research and funding for dementia research still lags far behind investment in other serious health conditions.”