Safety and immunogenicity of the α-synuclein active immunotherapeutic PD01A in patients with Parkinson's disease: a randomised, single-blinded, phase 1 trial

Lancet Neurol. 2020 Jul;19(7):591-600. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(20)30136-8.


Background: Robust evidence supports the role of α-synuclein pathology as a driver of neuronal dysfunction in Parkinson's disease. PD01A is a specific active immunotherapy with a short peptide formulation targeted against oligomeric α-synuclein. This phase 1 study assessed the safety and tolerability of the PD01A immunotherapeutic in patients with Parkinson's disease.

Methods: We did a first-in-human, randomised, phase 1 study of immunisations with PD01A, followed by three consecutive study extensions. Patients aged 45-65 years with a clinical diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (≤4 years since diagnosis and Hoehn and Yahr Stage 1 to 2), imaging results (dopamine transporter single photon emission CT and MRI) consistent with their Parkinson's disease diagnosis, and on stable doses of Parkinson's disease medications for at least 3 months were recruited at a single private clinic in Vienna, Austria. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1), using a computer-generated sequence with varying block size, to receive four subcutaneous immunisations with either 15 μg or 75 μg PD01A injected into the upper arms and followed up initially for 52 weeks, followed by a further 39 weeks' follow-up. Patients were then randomly assigned (1:1) again to receive the first booster immunisation at 15 μg or 75 μg and were followed up for 24 weeks. All patients received a second booster immunisation of 75 μg and were followed up for an additional 52 weeks. Patients were masked to dose allocation. Primary (safety) analyses included all treated patients. These four studies were registered with EU Clinical Trials Register, EudraCT numbers 2011-002650-31, 2013-001774-20, 2014-002489-54, and 2015-004854-16.

Findings: 32 patients were recruited between Feb 14, 2012, and Feb 6, 2013, and 24 were deemed eligible and randomly assigned to receive four PD01A priming immunisations. One patient had a diagnosis change to multiple system atrophy and was withdrawn and two patients withdrew consent during the studies. 21 (87%) of 24 patients received all six immunisations and completed 221-259 weeks in-study (two patients in the 15 μg dose group and one patient in the 75 μg dose group discontinued). All patients experienced at least one adverse event, but most of them were considered unrelated to study treatment (except for transient local injection site reactions, which affected all but one patient). Serial MRI assessments also ruled out inflammatory processes. Systemic treatment-related adverse events were fatigue (n=4), headache (n=3), myalgia (n=3), muscle rigidity (n=2), and tremor (n=2). The geometric group mean titre of antibodies against the immunising peptide PD01 increased from 1:46 at baseline to 1:3580 at week 12 in the 15 μg dose group, and from 1:76 to 1:2462 at week 12 in the 75 μg dose group. Antibody titres returned to baseline over 2 years, but could be rapidly reactivated after booster immunisation from week 116 onwards, reaching geometric group mean titres up to 1:20218.

Interpretation: Repeated administrations of PD01A were safe and well tolerated over an extended period. Specific active immunotherapy resulted in a substantial humoral immune response with target engagement. Phase 2 studies are needed to further assess the safety and efficacy of PD01A for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Funding: AFFiRiS, Michael J Fox Foundation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology*
  • Peptide Fragments / therapeutic use*
  • Peptides / immunology*
  • Peptides / therapeutic use*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • alpha-Synuclein / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • PD01A peptide
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Peptides
  • alpha-Synuclein