Study Finds Potential Vaccines for Psoriasis, Allergies, and Alzheimer Disease

Alison Rodriguez

Combining a tetanus vaccine with a viral particle that typically affects cucumbers may be used to treat psoriasis and allergies, and may potentially protect against Alzheimer disease, according to a study.

In a study published by Nature Vaccines, researchers took the protein coat of a cucumber mosaic virus and incorporated it into a tetanus vaccine-derived protein structure. This protein structure is intended to stimulate the immune system and create vaccines to treat several chronic diseases.

“For chronic diseases, these antibodies are specially made against one of the body’s own proteins. By blocking that single protein, the disease gets better. To use the example of psoriasis, a protein called Interleukin 17 needs to be active for the disease to progress,” John Foerster, MD, of Unveristy of Dundee, said in a statement. "By creating a vaccine that stimulates the body to make antibodies against interleukin 17, itself, we can replace the need for frequent and expensive injections and make this type of treatment much more affordable and accessible to patients who could otherwise not afford specially made antibodies."

In the study, the vaccine demonstrated positive results in psoriasis and cat allergy models. It also increased antibody levels that are suggested to be beneficial in Alzheimer disease. The vaccines may potentially be either preventative, in the case of Alzheimer disease, or therapeutic, as they could cure psoriasis after it is diagnosed.

“Alzheimer's disease usually develops in elderly people. The fact that the vaccine described here is optimised for old individuals seems therefore particularly helpful,” noted Foerster. "An additional important aspect of the current work is that we developed a platform technology and are currently broadening our preclinical studies to vaccines against Parkinson's disease as well as chronic pain."

The authors call for additional research in order to test the efficacy of the vaccine in a clinical setting. The researchers have received regulatory approval to initiate testing in humans. However, the antibodies for psoriasis treatment would need to be injected once a month—therefore, a vaccine would be a more affordable treatment.

“Our research shows that this technique works in mice and, importantly, our new vaccine technology shows that it is likely to be a more effective type of vaccine than existing ones in older people. Since many patients with chronic conditions like psoriasis are elderly this technology may work much better to obtain effective vaccines,” concluded Foerster.
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