Cleveland Clinic to build precision medicine research program focused on dementia

The Dementia with Lewy Bodies Consortium, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will work to identify biomarkers and advance disease detection, diagnosis, and measurement.
By Bernie Monegain
11:34 AM

Cleveland Clinic is putting together a national research consortium focused on understanding what causes dementia and how best to diagnose it.

The new Dementia with Lewy Bodies Consortium will also build a national, coordinated registry for clinical data. Principal investigator James Leverenz, MD, of Cleveland Clinic will lead the multi-center study, which is funded by a $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The five-year program aims to identify biomarkers that can help with diagnosis, detect disease progression and measure response to treatment. The consortium will receive additional funding from The Lewy Body Dementia Association to pay for an annual meeting of researchers to collaborate, share data and discoveries.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies, or DLB, is a progressive neurological disorder. It is the second most common form of neurodegenerative dementia in the elderly. There are no approved drugs or treatments.

"The Dementia with Lewy Bodies Consortium will be a vital network for coordinating research efforts for this common form of dementia," said Leverenz, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Brain Health Center. “Finding a biomarker for DLB is a top research priority.”

The disease is caused by a buildup of abnormal protein deposits, called "Lewy Bodies," in brain cells. An estimated 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from DLB and the associated Parkinson's disease dementia. Because symptoms can closely resemble other more commonly known diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, it is widely underdiagnosed.

The consortium also includes Florida Atlantic University, Thomas Jefferson University, Rush University, University of California San Diego, University of North Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, and VA Puget Sound Health Care Center/University of Washington.

The research team will collaborate with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Aging, which have established data banks and biorepositories.

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