BOSTON (WHDH) - Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is set to begin a clinical trial that will test the safety and efficacy of a new nasal vaccine that is intended to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The trial represents the culmination of nearly 20 years of research led by Howard L. Weiner, MD, co-director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at the Brigham, the hospital announced Tuesday.

“The launch of the first human trial of a nasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s is a remarkable milestone,” Weiner said in a statement. “Over the last two decades, we’ve amassed preclinical evidence suggesting the potential of this nasal vaccine for AD. If clinical trials in humans show that the vaccine is safe and effective, this could represent a nontoxic treatment for people with Alzheimer’s, and it could also be given early to help prevent Alzheimer’s in people at risk.”

“I lost my mother to Alzheimers disease, so I saw what it was like,” Weiner said.

“We’ve quickly seen him … the disease take his mind and it’s sort of at the point where it’s affecting his physical ability now,” said Julie Cassetina, whose father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year. “I think [the trial is] extremely promising. I think, you know, it gives some hope to this horrible diagnosis.”

The vaccine uses the immune modulator Protollin, an investigational intranasal agent that stimulates the immune system, according to researchers. Protollin is said to be composed of proteins derived from bacteria and has been used safely in humans as an adjuvant for other vaccines.

Researchers say Protollin is designed to activate white blood cells found in the lymph nodes on the sides and back of the neck to migrate to the brain and trigger clearance of beta amyloid plaques — one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

The clinical trial will be a single ascending dose trial of 16 participants, all of whom will be enrolled from the Ann Romney Center. Trial participants will be between 60 and 85 years of age with early, symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease.

The trial’s primary objective will be to determine the safety and tolerability of the nasal vaccine. The research team will also measure the effect of nasal Protollin on participants’ immune response, including its effects on white blood cells.

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