RADNOR, Pa., Jan. 26, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Although frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) is the most common dementia for people under 60, the average time from onset of symptoms to an accurate diagnosis exceeds three years. Difficulty diagnosing FTD and monitoring its progression are barriers to clinical practice and drug discovery. Today, there are no approved treatments.
The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) aims to address these challenges with the award of $2 million to fund cutting-edge research into the discovery of FTD biomarkers.
Doctors often rely on biomarkers – objective, easily measured biological features that indicate underlying pathology— to support accurate diagnosis and treatment efforts. Blood pressure, for example, is a widely-used biomarker for cardiovascular disease. Today, no comparable measures exist for FTD.
Randall Bateman, MD, Washington University, St. Louis.
Christian Haas, PhD, Ludwig Maximilian University & the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Munich.
Leonard Petrucelli, PhD, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville.
Jonathan Rohrer, MRCP, PhD, University College London, UK.
Judith Steen, PhD, Boston Children's Hospital.
Biomarkers will help doctors to diagnose FTD, track its progression, and evaluate potential treatments. These efforts could also benefit research targeting diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS.
"Identifying biomarkers will foster greater attention to FTD from the academic research community and the pharmaceutical industry, and enable researchers to direct specific therapies to the right patients," said David S. Knopman, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, a member of AFTD's Medical Advisory Council.
This initiative is made possible through a generous grant from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation. Participating researchers have committed to open sharing of data with the scientific community, to benefit future FTD research. Additional awards totaling $3,000,000 are anticipated.
Frontotemporal degeneration can gradually erode an individual's personality, ability to speak, make sound decisions, control movements, behave within social norms and relate to loved ones. Striking earlier in life, when few anticipate dementia, FTD devastates family relationships, finances and even the health of caregivers, in ways that dementia in older patients does not. Average life expectancy is 7 to 13 years after the start of symptoms.