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Clinical Practice: Alzheimer's vaccine reviewed
A controversial vaccine that was the subject of a halted trial to prevent
cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients could have the potential to be
reformulated to eliminate its toxicity while retaining the benefits. In a
Practice Point article in the December issue of Nature Clinical Practice
Neurology, Thomas Wisniewski considers how this could be achieved, while
commenting on the recently published trial results.
Despite evidence that an amyloid beta vaccine can reduce brain
amyloid deposits and improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer's
disease, the clinical trial was stopped owing to the development of
encephalitis in a small proportion of patients. Wisniewski points out that
the positive and negative effects of the vaccine are attributable to
different components of the immune response. Improvements in cognitive
function were linked to an antibody-mediated response, whereas encephalitis
was associated with a cell-mediated response. Antibodies that are engineered
to avoid the cell-mediated response while retaining the antibody-mediated
response could be the way forward, he argues.
The ability to image amyloid plaques in the living brain is important both
for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and for increasing our knowledge of
the underlying disease mechanisms. In a Technology Insight Review article,
Dan Huddleston and Scott Small review recent progress using positron
emission tomography (PET scanning) in humans, and consider whether some
promising results using magnetic resonance imaging in animals might be
translated into the clinical setting.
Author contact details:
Thomas Wisniewski (New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY,USA)
Tel: +1 212 263 2152; Email: [email protected]
Scott A Small (Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New
York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212-305-9194; Email: [email protected]
Also in this issue....
Statins are being widely touted as the latest 'wonder drugs', and a Drug
Insight Review in this issue explores their potential for treating
neuroinflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Author contact details:
Scott Zamvil (University of California San Francisco, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 415-502-7395; Email: [email protected]
The Nature Clinical Practice journals:
The first four journals launched in November 2004 and a further four in
November 2005. This is NPG's most extensive launch programme and the Nature
Clinical Practice series is due to extend to 15 titles over the next few
Each month the journals filter original research in their field,
highlighting the most important research articles, then explaining how the
research affects patients' treatments. Content also includes editorial and
opinion pieces, highlights from the current literature, commentaries on the
application of recent research to practical patient care, thorough reviews,
and in-depth case studies.
Katharine Mansell, Nature London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail: [email protected]
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