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Digital Maze

About the NEXGEN-PD Project

Vaccines are cheap, safe, and easy to administer, making them a highly desirable solution for treating PD. Unfortunately, current vaccines are not very effective at generating immune responses against alpha synuclein (aSyn), the protein which causes PD. This is because traditional vaccines generate only weak immune responses to proteins like aSyn that are also found in healthy individuals.

The NEXGEN project introduces the WISIT (Win the Skin Immune system Trick) vaccine platform, which promises to revolutionise vaccines for the treatment of PD by generating far stronger immune responses than existing vaccines. Unlike conventional vaccines, WISIT is formulated and administered specifically to activate potent dendritic cells in the skin. Uniquely, the WISIT vaccine backbone itself (β-glucan) targets the DCs and acts as an enhancing adjuvant, meaning that little-no additional adjuvants need adding, unlike existing vaccines. Preliminary experiments show that when WISIT is used to target aSyn, the resultant immune activation and antibody production is far stronger than existing vaccines. These extraordinary results are very exciting but must now be brought from the lab to the clinic, where they can benefit patients. The NEXGEN project is working to prepare WISIT for the clinic and performing the first ever clinical trials of WISIT in PD patients.

To make the best use of WISIT, it is also important to diagnose PD early. No neurodegeneration treatments can regenerate damaged brain tissue, they can only stop or reduce further damage. The earlier treatment is administered, the less permanent damage there will be. Unfortunately, the only way to reliably diagnose PD early currently is with a lumbar puncture, which is far too invasive for routine diagnostics. Investigating particles called extracellular vesicles (EVs) which can be found in all body fluids, the NEXGEN project is also developing new diagnostic tests that can diagnose PD using blood or urine. These diagnostic tests will be demonstrated alongside WISIT in clinic, assessing the changes before and after treatment.

Combining this new diagnostic test with the WISIT vaccine, the NEXGEN project is aiming for a revolution in PD treatment and prevention. Better still, these results don’t just benefit PD, but would be relevant to a wide array of other diseases. The NEXGEN project aims to be the debut of the next generation of vaccine treatments for non-communicable diseases.

NEXGEN Objectives

Obj 1

Manufacture new

WISIT constructs

Obj 5

Identify

EV biomarkers

Obj 2

Generate knowledge on WISIT mode of action

Obj 6

Demonstrate WISIT

in vivo

Obj 3

Optimise vaccine administration

Obj 7

Demonstrate WISIT

in the clinic

Obj 4

Develop and validate biomarker assay

Obj 8

Evaluate economic impact in Europe

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