As you know, The Heart Foundation has been supporting a number of research projects under my direction over the past 20 plus years. One of the main projects has been the development of a vaccine for atherosclerosis. There are two main components to the vaccine program:
- An active vaccine that uses immunization with LDL cholesterol related antigen to generate a protective immune response that slows down atherosclerosis
- A passive vaccine that uses injection of a synthetic antibody to slow down atherosclerosis
In January of 2021, we finally received FDA permission to launch a phase 2 human clinical trial to test a passive vaccine made up of a synthetic antibody (Orticumab) in patients with both psoriasis and coronary atherosclerosis. The reason for using psoriasis patients is that they are at high risk for developing coronary artery disease, and Orticumab is likely to reduce psoriasis as well as coronary atherosclerosis. This trial will be conducted in 70 patients at 15-17 US sites by Abcentra (a startup biotech company spun out by Cedars based on inventions in my lab). This is an exciting milestone. Check out this article to learn more.
As far as the active vaccine program is concerned, we have achieved a preclinical milestone in demonstrating that a nano-particle based active vaccine formulation reduces atherosclerosis in an animal model (the manuscript describing these exciting results is being prepared for submission to a medical journal for publication). Our eventual goal is that the nano vaccine will move into clinical testing in the foreseeable future.