Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, is currently enrolling for three drug trials of potential new treatments for Lewy body dementia.
Although it affects the lives of an estimated 1.4 million Americans and their families and is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, many healthcare providers are unfamiliar with Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies. Lewy bodies are abnormal brain deposits of alpha-synuclein, a protein.
Lewy body dementia can occur alone or in combination with other neurodegenerative disorders and in its early stages can be challenging to diagnose, often being confused with Parkinson’s disease because of similar motor symptoms such as rigidity, tremors, slow movement, and balance issues, or alternatively confused with Alzheimer’s disease due to similar cognitive problems such as memory impairment, visual hallucinations, behavioral problems and difficulty maintaining alertness and attention. While some individuals exhibit more motor symptoms, others exhibit more pronounced cognitive symptoms. Slightly more prevalent in men than in women, Lewy body dementia typically occurs at age 50 or older, although it can develop in younger individuals as well.
Unfortunately, existing treatments for Lewy body dementia can only treat symptoms. There are no FDA-approved treatments that can slow down or otherwise alter the disease’s progression.
Two of the clinical trial drugs being investigated, nilotinib and bosutinib, are FDA-approved leukemia treatments, while K0706 (now named SSC-138) is an investigational drug being studied for leukemia and Parkinson’s disease. All three drugs belong to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors drug family believed to impact dopamine, a neurotransmitter largely responsible for brain functions that can be compromised by Lewy body dementia.
Georgetown University Medical Center is one of 25 Research Centers of Excellence designated by the Lewy Body Dementia Association along with other leading institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, Stanford University, and Massachusetts General Hospital. The clinical trials are being conducted under the leadership of Charbel Moussa, director of the Laboratory for Dementia and Parkinsonism and scientific and clinical research director of the Translational Neurotherapeutics Program, both at Georgetown.
For more information about the Lewy body dementia clinical trials, please visit clinicaltrials.gov. Individuals wishing to be screened for participation at the Georgetown University Clinical Research Unit should contact Joy Arellano, clinical research nurse coordinator at Georgetown University Hospital’s neurosurgery department, at 202-444-7273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.