January 27, 2021/News Releases

Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health Receives NIH and ADDF Grants, Totaling $4.6 Million to Study FDA-Approved Cancer Drug Lenalidomide in Alzheimer’s Disease

Dual studies aim to determine if the repurposed drug safely and effectively reduces inflammatory and disease-associated biomarkers, and improves cognition in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease

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Las Vegas: The National Institute of Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) awarded five-year grants of $3.2 million and $1.4 million, respectively, to scientists from Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health to study the therapeutic potential of the anti-cancer drug lenalidomide in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The funding will support the project “Repurposing Lenalidomide for Early Alzheimer’s Treatment” led by Marwan Sabbagh, M.D., and Boris Decourt, Ph.D., of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The project is comprised of two complementary clinical studies aimed at identifying whether lenalidomide reduces inflammation and other disease-related neuropathological features, and improves cognition in those living with mild cognitive impairment.

Enthusiasm to study lenalidomide stems from the strategy to target multiple Alzheimer’s disease neuropathologies at once, a relatively new approach in Alzheimer’s disease drug development. Lenalidomide is one of few multi-purpose agents, which has demonstrated several effects on the immune system in cancer patients. Additionally, as an FDA-approved drug, lenalidomide’s safety and toxicity profiles have already been established, which will help accelerate testing and progression in Alzheimer’s clinical studies if the present project is successful.

“To date, disease-modifying therapies have only used a single drug approach to target Alzheimer’s disease pathologies, and they have all failed. These grants will help us explore a novel approach in reducing several pathologies simultaneously,” said Dr. Sabbagh, director of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. “With its dual mechanistic nature, lenalidomide is particularly intriguing because it has the potential to both reduce chronic inflammation and lower amyloid beta loads in the brain, which are both indicators of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The two lenalidomide sister studies will recruit participants with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease/MCI at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The first study is funded by the NIH and is a 20-month Phase II investigation evaluating the effect of long-term use of lenalidomide on cognition, along with safety and tolerability.

The second study, supported by ADDF funding, is a six-month Phase II investigation examining the short-term use of lenalidomide in 45 participants, with a focus on safety and effects on blood and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers. Dr. Sabbagh’s work is also supported by the Camille and Larry Ruvo Endowed Chair for Brain Health.

For additional information about Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, visit ClevelandClinic.org/Nevada.

About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 18 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2019, there were 9.8 million total outpatient visits, 309,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 255,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CCforMedia and twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

About the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which opened in 2009, provides expert diagnosis and treatment for individuals and families living with Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body, frontotemporal and other dementias; Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, multiple system atrophy and other movement disorders; and multiple sclerosis. With locations in Cleveland, OH; Weston, Florida and headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada, the center offers a continuum of care with no-cost opportunities for the community to participate in education and research, including disease prevention studies and clinical trials of promising new medications. An integrated entity, Keep Memory Alive, raises funds exclusively in support of the Nevada location. clevelandclinic.org/Nevada

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.

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