New nasal spray could stop Alzheimer's before it starts

Posted at 5:30 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 19:31:07-04

BOSTON — Imagine stopping Alzheimer’s before it even started? Eventually, a new nasal spray aims to do that, but it’s still in its early stages of testing.

Jeff Goldberg, one of just 16 people in clinical trials, said the new drug is giving his family hope. He and his wife, Cynthia, have been together for over five decades, and are now taking on Alzheimer’s together after Jeff was diagnosed about last year.

“We checked you out, you do have Alzheimer’s, we have this brand-new drug,” said Goldberg

While Jeff was diagnosed about six months ago, he unknowingly had it for five years. Shortly after his diagnosis, his doctor asked if he would take part in a landmark human trial.

“I’m very interested in this, but number one, do I have any chance of dying because then I am not interested. They said absolutely not, I said let’s do it,” said Goldberg.

Participants received two doses of the nasal vaccine one week apart. The vaccine sprays a drug called Protollin directly into the nasal passage, with the goal of activating immune cells to remove the plaque in the brain.

“It was kind of a difficult decision to make, but because they didn’t figure anything major was going to happen and he really wanted to go with this, and so far, we’re good,” said Cynthia.

Jeff received his doses in September and was then monitored through November.

“They wanted to check every vital sign, everything that could possibly go wrong with my body, so they wanted to take every one of those tests while I was there,” Goldberg said.

So far, Goldberg claims he’s noticed no negative side effects.

“My main problem with Alzheimer’s is not long-term memory at the moment, short term memory, you know someone would say something to me, I might forget right away," said Goldberg. "But recently I seem to have leveled off, I don’t think I’ve gotten any worse, which is kind of a cool thing.”

Almost 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a leading cause of death among adults. Jeremy Cunningham with the Alzheimer’s Association said this first of its kind trial is very exciting, but still early.

“It’s one of the fastest growing diseases in our country and every day we talk to people that have a connection,” said Cunningham.

Goldberg was included in phase one of the trials, which mainly focused on safety and tolerability of the nasal vaccine. He said he will continue with the trials as needed.

“I’m not doing anything else, I just turned 70, so I figured, what the heck, I might as well do something to help other people, too,” said Jeff Goldberg.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston began their clinical trial last year, which 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 hospital.

“The launch of the first human trial of a nasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s is a remarkable milestone,” said Weiner. “Over the last two decades, we’ve amassed pre-clinical 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.”