Evaluating Cancer Drug Lenalidomide in Alzheimer Disease: Marwan Sabbagh, MD

March 8, 2021
Marwan Sabbagh, MD

The director of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and neurologist at Cleveland Clinic provided an overview on how lenalidomide, an FDA-approved cancer drug, will be evaluated in Alzheimer disease.

"The reason these omides are picked is because they have a dual mechanism of action that inhibits both TNF alpha and inflammation in the non-COX pathway, but also in the TNF alpha pathway. These also have potent effects on both amyloid and base.”

Lead investigators Marwan Sabbagh, MD, and Boris Decourt, PhD, were recently tasked with leading a study on assessing the therapeutic potential of the anti-cancer drug lenalidomide in early-stage Alzheimer disease (AD), or mild cognitive impairment. The project is comprised of 2 complementary clinical studies aimed at identifying whether the drug can reduce inflammation and other disease-related neuropathological features, as well as if it can improve cognition.

Sabbagh, director of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and neurologist at Cleveland Clinic, noted that lenalidomide is the child of thalidomide, which was observed by Sabbagh and his colleagues in patients with AD over a decade ago but was not well-tolerated. However, the enthusiasm to observe lenalidomide in this patient population stems from the strategy to target multiple AD neuropathologies at once.

In an interview with NeurologyLive, Sabbagh detailed the origins of the study, as well as why this drug may lend itself to positive results.