A new study has found a promising new treatment for patients with behavioral variant fronto-temporal dementia, the second most common form of dementia in the under 60s — resulting in a stabilizing of what would normally be escalating behavioral issues, and a slowing of brain shrinkage due to the disease. It is the second clinical trial to show that the drug, sodium selenate, may slow cognitive decline and neuro-degenerative damage that is the hallmark of many dementias including Alzheimer’s Disease.
Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) can occur in people as young as 35 years of age.
It is characterized by behavioral disturbances and personality changes, and can be highly disruptive and distressing for both patients and their families.
There are no treatments or cures for bvFTD and typical survival is 5-7 years from diagnosis.
“Our Phase 1 trial showed that sodium selenate is safe and well-tolerated in patients with bvFTD over a period of 12 months,” said Dr. Lucy Vivash, a researcher in the Department of Neuroscience at Monash University, and colleagues.
“The majority of patients receiving sodium selenate showed no change in their cognitive or behavioral symptoms, and reduced rates of brain atrophy over the trial period.”
In almost half of the cases with bvFTD, the damage to the neurons in the brain is caused by the build-up of a protein called tau.
This protein is a major target for research in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as a way to reverse the neurodegeneration caused by this tau accumulation.
“Sodium selenate upregulates an enzyme in the brain that effectively attacks the tau protein,” Dr. Vivash said.
“We have previously shown, in a Phase 2 trial, that patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease who took sodium selenate experienced less neurodegeneration in those who did not.”
“In addition, those patients in the trial with higher levels of selenium, a breakdown product of sodium selenate, in their bloodstream showed less cognitive decline.”
Monash University: https://www.monash.edu/medicine/news/latest/2022-articles/monash-clinical-trials-of-new-drug-shows-promise-for-alzheimers-disease-and-dementia
the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: https://alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/trc2.12299