Nasal Vaccine for Alzheimer's Disease? Clinical Trial Starts in Boston

Vaccines are in the news because of COVID-19 and the flu; however, a nasal vaccine being tested in Boston may be the answer to Alzheimer's in the decades to come.

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Nasal Vaccine for Alzheimer's Disease? Clinical Trial Starts in Boston
3 Min Read December 20th, 2021

A clinical trial is set to begin testing the safety and efficacy of a new vaccine delivered nasally intended to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Brigham and Women's Hospital is set to begin a clinical trial representing the culmination of nearly 20 years of research led by Howard L. Weiner, MD, the co-director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at the Brigham. 

Stimulating Immune System

The vaccine stimulates the immune system activating white blood cells found in the lymph nodes on the sides and back of the neck to migrate to the brain and trigger clearance of beta-amyloid plaques — one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's Disease.

"The launch of the first human trial of a nasal vaccine for Alzheimer's is a remarkable milestone," said Weiner. 

Howard L. Weiner, MD

Howard L. Weiner, MD

Weiner says they have amassed preclinical evidence suggesting the potential of this nasal vaccine for use with Alzheimer's. 

"If clinical trials in humans show that the vaccine is safe and effective, this could represent a nontoxic treatment for people with Alzheimer's, and it could also be given early to help prevent Alzheimer's in people at risk," he explained.

Dr. Tanuja Chitnis, professor of Neurology at the Brigham and principal investigator of the trial, says there has been growing evidence that the immune system plays a crucial role in eliminating beta-amyloid.

Immune System Stimulation Could be Effective with Other Diseases

Tanuja Chitnis, MD

Tanuja Chitnis, MD

"This vaccine harnesses a novel arm of the immune system to treat AD. Research in this area has paved the way for us to pursue a whole new avenue for potentially treating not only Alzheimer's but also other neurodegenerative diseases," said Chitnis. 

The primary objective in the first phase of the trial is to determine the safety and tolerability of the nasal vaccine. Researchers will measure the effect of the vaccine on the immune response, including its effects on white blood cells, by examining cell surface markers, gene profiles, and functional assays.

"The immune system plays a very important role in all neurologic diseases," said Weiner. "And it's exciting that after 20 years of preclinical work, we can finally take a key step forward toward clinical translation and conduct this landmark first human trial."

Dementia Leading Cause of Long-Term Health Care

The CDC says about 6.2 million Americans live with Alzheimer's disease in 2021. Alzheimer's, and other types of dementia, are a leading cause of long-term health care. 

The Alzheimer's Association notes that Alzheimer's is also the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is the only one without an effective treatment or cure.

The cost of Alzheimer's care for 2021 is estimated at $355 billion. Much of that cost is supervisory and long-term health care which is not paid for by traditional health insurance, including Medicare and supplements.  

Medicaid will pay for the long-term care costs due to Alzheimer's and dementia, but only if the individual has little or no income and assets. Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for this care, but you cannot purchase a policy unless you have relatively good health.

Families Face Many Challenges

The cost of most long-term care is placed on families by either funding professional care from income and assets or with non-paid family members as caregivers placing financial and emotional strain and burden on the family.

The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator shows how devastating long-term care costs can be on families. Nursing home and memory care can run over $100,000 a year, in-home care can cost less, but if someone requires 24/7 care, those costs can be just as expensive - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News.

The costs vary depending on where you live and the type and location of the care. 

While Long-Term Care Insurance pays for care too often, many people fail to plan and find themselves in a crisis with few available solutions. Experts recommend obtaining LTC Insurance before retirement when health is not detrimental to securing coverage.

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LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

The costs and burdens of aging are a reality for many families in the U.S. and worldwide. Ignoring the problem today means a crisis for your family tomorrow. There is a better way for you, your family, and your finances.

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance gives you control and helps you avoid dependence on your loved ones. They, in turn, will have the time to be family instead of caregivers.

When you own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, you own a solution. However, don't delay. Your fairly good health today gives you the option to plan.

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To help you plan for the future costs and burdens of changing health and aging, LTC NEWS can put together several resources, including:

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

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Experts suggest using a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options available to you and your family. Insurance rates are regulated, so no insurance agent, agency, or financial advisor can give you special deals. However, premiums do vary over 100% between insurance companies for the same coverage.

A specialist who works with the top companies can match your age, health, family history, and other factors and find you the best coverage at the best value. A specialist will save you money, and you will have the peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

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If your parent or loved one needs care now - or soon - you will need to find the appropriate care in the right setting depending on their needs.

Take a moment and read - 

Benefits of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance.  

Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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