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Trends Mol Med. 2003 Mar;9(3):85-7.

Immunotherapy for Alzheimer's disease: will vaccination work?

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Lilly Research Laboratories, Eli Lilly and Company, Neuroscience Discovery Research, Indianapolis, IN 46285, USA.


Active or passive immunization against the beta-amyloid peptide (Abeta) has been proposed as a method for preventing and/or treating Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition to lowering brain Abeta and amyloid burden in transgenic mouse models of AD, a beneficial effect of immunization on previously characterized memory impairment(s) has also been reported in these mice. Whether these preclinical data will predict efficacy in AD patients remains to be seen. A clinical trial of active immunization (vaccination) was halted, owing to a serious adverse event (meningoencephalitis), raising questions about the safety of this approach. Two recent reports suggest that immunotherapy-based approaches to treating and preventing AD will require careful antigen and antibody selection, to maximize efficacy and minimize serious adverse events. However, given the potential efficacy of this approach, we believe that immunotherapy for AD should not be prematurely abandoned.

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