TEN people with Parkinson's disease this week received injections of the first vaccine aimed at combating the condition called
PD01A, the drug primes the body's immune system to destroy alpha-synuclein, a protein thought to trigger the disease by accumulating in the brain and disrupting dopamine production.Affiris, the company in Vienna, Austria, that developed the vaccine, says it is the first treatment to target the cause of the disease. "When it forms clumps in cells, alpha-synuclein disrupts normal levels of dopamine by locking it inside cells that produce it. It is also toxic, killing neurons and their connections," says Mandler Markus, head of preclinical development at the company.Most existing treatments only ease symptoms by boosting dopamine levels.In all, 32 people will receive the vaccine in the first trial on humans. The objective is to ensure the vaccine is safe, but researchers will also monitor for signs of improvement in symptoms.