Alzheimer’s Disease & a Vaccine
Can you imagine the heartache of starting to forget family, friends, memories, and experiences you have acquired over a lifetime just in time for retirement? Can you imagine the grief of seeing your loved one slowly but surely slip away?
The truth is that:
Worldwide, there are about 50 million people who have dementia, and it is an increasing number. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and contributes to 60–70% of all cases [i]
In the US, 1 in 9 people over 65 have Alzheimer’s and 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia [ii]
Though dementia mainly affects older people, it isn’t a normal part of aging [iii]
But what if there was a vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is a deadly neurological disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but as it progresses individuals have increased memory loss, confusion, anxiety, and they lose the ability to carry on a conversation, as well as carry out daily tasks. More than 30 million individuals are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s today and it is a growing number as we are living longer. That number is set to triple by 2050. Furthermore, Alzheimer’s is one of the costliest diseases to society. According to the World Alzheimer’s Report 2018, the cost to society of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is estimated to be approximately 1 trillion USD annually, and is estimated to be 2 trillion USD by 2030, which is more than 1% of global BNP.
So, what is happening in the pharmaceutical field that might meet the medical demands of Alzheimer’s that we so urgently need? For a long time, there hasn’t been much progress despite the vast research and finances going into neurological disorder. Lately however, there has been some breakthroughs in many pharma companies that have now reached different stages in their drug development against Alzheimer’s, one of them being a Swedish biopharma company – Alzinova AB.
Alzinova has taken a different path; it is in the process of developing a therapeutic vaccine against Alzheimer’s (ALZ-101). It all started at the University of Gothenburg after the invention of a unique technology platform, AβCC, and the company was founded in 2011. ALZ-101 is a vaccine that stimulates the production of antibodies against the toxic Aβ oligomers. It has completed the preclinical phase and a first-in-human study will start during the third quarter of 2021.
As Ingela Nylander, former Development Project Director at Alzinova, described in the third episode of Data, Pharma & Fika, the dream is to allow everyone to live a good life as elders without being worried about Alzheimer’s disease.
The project however is still in an early stage which makes many variables unknown. A big challenge becomes making decisions on limited data and assumptions. Despite being in early stage, Ingela explains the importance of planning all the way to launch, even though that might take many years. Data plays a key role here in providing a roadmap for how to increase the chances to have a successful candidate drug and to reach the desired results later. Using data analysis, Alzinova seeks to answer questions relating to manufacturing, scaling, and storing the drug substance. The collected data on toxicology, efficacy in models, and the drug, together with assumptions, enable the team to make predictions. Alzinova is using the analytics platform Captario SUM® to answer what-if questions, do scenario testing, and use ranges on assumption values, which allows them to make more accurate conclusions of the results and keep track of which variables are assumptions and which are facts.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the areas in medicine with the highest unmet medical need and there are so many people and families suffering. Though we are now living longer, we also want the quality of life to be good. Therefore, we are so glad to see progress in this field and to be able to share the stories of companies helping in these difficult areas.
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