Vaccine against fading minds – coupling peptides to a KLH carrier to find and fight Alzheimer’s disease

Vaccine against fading minds – coupling peptides to a KLH carrier to find and fight Alzheimer’s disease

As time marches on, the body stays while the mind fades. The hallmarks in patients with Alzheimer’s disease are a noticeable decline in cognitive performance and memory loss. To date, no drug or therapy has been discovered that can cure this neurodegenerative condition. At best, medication can delay or alleviate symptoms.

Neither has any prophylactic immunization been yet developed. Not to be discouraged, medical researchers keep working on vaccines against Alzheimer’s. This is where, biosyn Arzneimittel GmbH, the pharmaceutical and biotech company headquartered in Fellbach near Stuttgart plays a decisive role. In clinical trials on potential vaccines against Alzheimer’s, the protein molecule used to carry the peptide to its target is none other than the keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) supplied by biosyn.

The positive results obtained in a Phase II study on a peptide vaccine give reason for hope, but further studies are needed. The results suggest that further neuronal damage can be prevented in patients. The findings were published in the new online-only research journal Nature Aging. The potential vaccine is designed to prevent clumping of certain proteins in the human brain. These clumps damage the communication pathways in and between neurons. Over the years, the nerve cells die off and neuronal connections are lost. This affects regions of the brain responsible for memory, thought, language and orientation.

So what is biosyn's contribution to all this: The biotech company supplies the KLH carrier molecule used in the development of the potential vaccine against Alzheimer’s. A vaccine is a preparation used to stimulate the body to produce a specific immune response, like against a disease. To achieve this, antigens are administered to make the immune system start a fight against the target pathogen. Antigens are substances identified by the body as foreign thereby triggering a defensive reaction. The body's immune cells produce antibodies to fight the antigens identified as foreign or threatening. When antibody encounters antigen, a reaction takes place: The bad cell is [hopefully] destroyed.

Thanks to its potent immunogenicity, KLH is an ideal immunization candidate because weak antigens can be chemically coupled to the surface of this large carrier protein. By reacting to the extremely strong antigen KLH, the immune system also reacts to the weak antigens coupled to it. The weaker molecules gain antigenicity and are rendered detectable by the immune system. At its production facilities, biosyn makes KLH viable for use in human vaccines by producing this effective carrier protein in compliance with the recognized standards of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).

Click here to view the publication in Nature Aging