Richard J. Hodes, MDRichard J. Hodes, MD
The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Aging (NIA) and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) have announced a new 5-year grant partnership totaling more than $63 million that will merge 2 ongoing studies dedicated to advancing research in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).

The 2 studies, which include Advancing Research and Treatment in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (ARTFL) and Longitudinal Evaluation of Familial Frontotemporal Dementia Subjects (LEFFTDS) will together form the new ARTFL-LEFFTDS Longitudinal Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (ALLFTD) research consortium.

Over the next 5 years, the goal is to prepare for clinical trials by helping researchers better understand the FTLD disease process. This includes improving methods to accurately identify study participants with FTLD and measure disease progression. They’ll do this by finding optimal biomarkers such as those seen on MRI neuroimaging, to help track disease burden and progression.

“This unified approach is another example of collaborative NIH effort meant to speed up discovery in a very challenging research area and make measurable progress against a devastating group of diseases,” NIA director Richard J. Hodes, MD, said in a statement.

The new consortium will look at a range of individuals: The LEFFTDS study will enroll and follow families with a known genetic mutation that causes FTD, while the ARTFL study focuses on families without known genetic mutations but who may have a strong family history of FTD.

“The discoveries made in FLTD could also help with finding treatments for other dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. 

Generally, FTLD is related to Alzheimer, in that both include misfolded proteins and loss of brain cells. However, FTLD is more common found in younger people, with around 60% of patients aged 45 to 64.

Overall, 18 hospitals and universities across the United States will be participating in the consortium, including Case Western Reserve University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Johns Hopkins University. In addition, 7 research cores will be used to help expand data collection capacity and sharing.
REFERENCE:
Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Consortium Combines and Continues Research Efforts [news release]. National Institutes of Health. October 16, 2019. nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/frontotemporal-lobar-degeneration-consortium-combines-continues-research-efforts. Accessed October 18, 2019.