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Alzheimer's vaccine trial a success (ki.se)
95 points by jamesbritt on June 9, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments

It looks like this was primarily examining the safety of the drug in human subjects.


Trial went from 2005 to 2010, results are just now out. Medical research is so slow, but there is some seriously cool stuff over the horizon nonetheless.

All they have demonstrated is the vacine is creating an immunogenic response against beta-amyloid. Which is a great step. However, whether or not this will slowdown Alzheimer is whole different story. But I sure hope the answer could be as simple.

Well, the fact it's not causing liver failure/brain damage/bouts of pedantic arguing/etc is a good thing. Waiting another decade to see if it actually works isn't too bad either, we haven't had a vaccine for the last 10,000 years of human civilisation, so what's another 10?

> we haven't had a vaccine for the last 10,000 years of human civilisation, so what's another 10?

Terry Pratchett.

Him and who else? Whose grandmother? It takes time to make sure these things are safe and statistically likely to work, but it can't possibly come too soon.

Odds are good that it's not likely to help anyone currently diagnosed with Alzheimers. Both the time delay, and the generally advanced state when people are diagnosed.

I hope for society's sake that it pans out - think of a society unburdened with much of the intellectual decline in old age.

what's another 10?

Millions of people's minds being crippled and their families forced to watch helplessly. There really needs to be a fast track for these sorts of diseases.

What if it goes wrong? There's very good reasons why drug trials take so long.

Good thing people like Edward Jenner and Jonas Salk didn't agree with you.


There should be an 'early stages' warning for the 'omg this medicine increases risk of broken nails, and I wasn't warned, now I want one million dollars'.

Fact is all drugs have side effects, all drugs have risks. And by the sheer ammount of acetaminophen on the market and its risks I assume it's not science that's in play there, but rather politics and lobbying.

According to wikipedia, it took 4 years between Jenner's first inoculation attempt and when the British government passed the Vaccination Act (which banned variolation and provided free vaccination for all). Wikipedia also told me that after Salk developed his first vaccine in 1952 (which he confirmed initial human safety, basically what these trials actually set out to do by testing on himself and his family), they then conducted a field test with over 2 MILLION participants before finally declaring it effective in 1955.

It should be noted that detecting the effectiveness of either a smallpox or polio vaccine is much easier than Alzheimer's. For one thing, we aren't even sure exactly how Alzheimer's deals damage. You would -need- a relatively long term, and careful study to tease out real results.

No, this stuff is too important to be handled hastily.

Large numbers of people living into advanced age is a relatively modern phenomenon. Ten thousand years ago you were likely to die of something like malaria or waterborne illness before reaching your 70s.

For a more recent comparison -- cancer deaths have been on the rise while cardiovascular deaths have been in decline.

The huge jump in average life expectancy has most been the result of babies living to 5 years as apposed to 70 year olds hitting 80. Paradoxically your more likely to see a living great great grandparent 300 years ago than now because people are having children later in life and the increase in 80 year old today has a lot to due with a population boom that happened over that time period.

Not that things are not far better now than at any point in the past, just life expectancy is a poor proxy for ratio of 15 year olds that reach 80. And you have 16 great great grandparent's who all lived to be old enough to have children.

Long time for people who are dealing with this now, unfortunately.

This comment is mainly a bookmark so I can find your comment again, should I be so minded.

However. If I were the type to use strong language, I'd use it here.

FYI, Human species are probably gonna be extinct in a fraction of 10,000 years.

> , we haven't had a vaccine for the last 10,000 years of human civilisation, so what's another 10?

If you had a family member with a devastating disease like this, right now, you might not be so glib about waiting another 10 years. For some folks, they don't have another 10 years to spare.

I'd politely disagree. My mother is already showing early stages of Alzheimer's, and while I honestly hope for a cure or even for treatments to arrest the progression of the disease, with medicine I think it's something that should be done right the first time.

Honestly, I am tempted to want to push this out myself. In the end though, given the medical, legal, and social (note: anti-vaccine crowds) implications of pushing out a faulty drug, I think in the long run it's better to wait and make sure it's safe first before opening treatment to the public.

Better for whom, exactly? Clearly not better for the people who could have been helped in the meantime.

Well, take all the ways that it could be unsafe, and (by some measure) estimate some utilitarian cost of rolling the drug out early for each individual person for each unsafe scenario. Now multiply each of those costs by the probability of that unsafe outcome happening for a given individual, sum those up and place them in column A. Now take the probability that the drug is effective and multiply it by each individual's probability of getting Alzheimer's, and then multiply that by the utilitarian penalty for that person having Alzheimer's. Put that in column B. Subtract column B from column A and put that in column C. Any row who has a positive value in column C - that is for whom it's better to wait and vet the treatment's safety.

Practically speaking, these will be people who know they are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's and get the vaccine before they show any signs.

Now, if we could actually run the calculations I mentioned above, the problem would disappear because we wouldn't simply say "approved as safe" or "rejected as unsafe". We'd just keep a running tally of the odds of safety and give the treatment to people according to the desperation of their individual case. But unfortunately, that's not the world we live in.

I can't reply to the five or so comments that say the same thing but I'll put it to you this way: My grandparents are both dead of cancer-related complications in the last few months, they didn't have ten years to wait for a cure. I very much can relate and empathise with those who have to wait. But it's still better late and working than never.

If you have a family member suffering from the disease or have a high chance of getting the disease, the said family member can be enrolled in the trial instead of waiting 10 years for the final product.

In medicine, safety is paramount. This is not a Node.js start-up where you can push 100 updates in a day.

I'm always glad to see news like this.

After I got my B.S. in computer science three years ago I decided to start "from scratch" and applied to molecular biology and genetics. I was fascinated by research done in immunology, cancer biology and many other fields which helped prolong human life considerably during 20th century.

However after some time I realised that improving human health and prolonging life is just one side of the coin and that there is something equally important (and sadly often neglected especially in the media): we should strive very strongly on improving quality of life and not "only" it's length.

There's a very good chance that you and me will live quite a long life, according to statistics. But over the last year I experienced some things that really shook my personal and professional view on this... That's probably the same for anyone who had at least some experience with any case of mental deterioration disease, not only in case of elderly people even though they're affected most often. I've realized there is no point in living into one's eighties without some dignity or without being able to enjoy it.

Luckily for as all there's an amazing research being done in the field of neuroscience so I have my hopes up.

As someone with a bit more knowledge in the field, can you help inform me: I thought the consensus was that beta amyloid was a second order effect of Alzheimers. Didn't we (as in the medical community) establish that it was now likely to be a result of chronic sugar toxicity? I'll find the relevant study

As a safety only trial this leaves quite a bit to be desired. "Larger trials must now be conducted to confirm the CAD106 vaccine's efficacy".

Stage 1 clinical trials are this way by design. Drugs passing stage 1 are then given to larger groups of people for stage 2 trials in which efficacy is tested. After that step, stage 3 trials are open to an even larger group, often enrolling subjects at doctors' offices, clinics, and research centers nationwide. Stage 3 compares an experimental treatment directly against the currently standard treatment.

I would like to know what happened to the other 20%

They can't remember.

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