Ichor awarded US$3.3m grant to develop DNA-based Alzheimer’s disease vaccine

20 August 2009

Ichor Medical Systems (Ichor) of San Diego has been selected to receive a $3.3 million grant award from the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for development of a vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease.

Ichor is collaborating on the project with Dr. Michael Agadjanyan, Vice President and Head of Immunology at the Institute for Molecular Medicine (IMM), Huntington Beach, CA; Dr. David H. Cribbs, Professor, Department of Neurology and Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders at the University of California, Irvine (UCI); and Dr. Ruth Mulnard, Associate Professor of Neurology and Associate Director, Institute for Clinical Translational Science at UCI.

In the last few years the laboratories of Dr. Agadjanyan and Dr. Cribbs have designed and evaluated DNA-based vaccines for Alzheimer’s disease. In mice genetically engineered to model Alzheimer’s disease, these vaccines slowed the development of pathology and reduced behavioural deficits.

Building upon these promising research findings, Ichor will evaluate its proprietary TriGrid electroporation technology for delivery of DNA vaccines encoding proteins implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The objective of this approach is to induce antibody responses that slow down progression of Alzheimer’s disease, or if vaccination is initiated early enough, could even prevent disease development. The plan funded by the NINDS includes the studies required to support eventual initiation of human clinical testing of this approach.

“The enormous and increasing worldwide healthcare burden of Alzheimer’s disease coupled with the current lack of effective drugs has made the investigation of new prophylactic and/or therapeutic approaches capable of addressing Alzheimer’s disease essential,” according to Cribbs.

“DNA-based agents exhibit several significant advantages when compared to conventional biologics,” said Agadjanyan. “However, the primary shortcoming of DNA-based agents is a lack of potency. Accumulating data suggest this can be overcome through improved delivery methods like Ichor’s TriGrid electroporation technology.”

“We are pleased to be working with the exceptional groups at IMM and UCI,” said Drew Hannaman, Ichor Vice President of Research and Development. “Their work demonstrating the feasibility of using DNA immunization for Alzheimer’s disease has provided a strong rationale supporting translation of this approach into clinical testing.”

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