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September 29, 2022/News Releases

National Institutes of Health Awards Cleveland Clinic $10.7 Million to Expand National Consortium Studying Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Renewal Grant to Support Research for Common but Little-Known Brain Disease

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a $10.7 million five-year renewal grant to Cleveland Clinic to expand a national research consortium focused on improving the diagnosis and treatments for Dementia with Lewy Bodies. The Dementia with Lewy Bodies Consortium, established in 2017, centralized research efforts and created a national, coordinated registry for clinical data.

Supported by the renewal grant, the consortium now includes collaborative sites Rush University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Pennsylvania, University of California San Diego (UCSD), University of North Carolina, the VA-Puget Sound Health Care System/University of Washington and Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.

Led by principal investigator James Leverenz, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, the research team has added Drs. Oscar Lopez at University of Pittsburgh and Douglas Galasko at UCSD as co-principal investigators with a sharper focus on developing new tools to accurately diagnose Dementia with Lewy Bodies and related cognitive issues linked to Parkinson’s disease. The study will build upon their foundational work during the initial grant. The multi-center study aims to use longitudinal data from the expanded patient cohort to identify biomarkers which can assist with diagnosis, detecting disease progression, and ultimately measuring response to treatment.

“Dementia with Lewy Bodies is the second most common cause of dementia in the elderly but it remains challenging to diagnose,” said Dr. Leverenz, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Cleveland. “Through our establishment of a national registry we have generated a significant amount of data and biofluids that have been shared with investigators through a collaboration with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Aging. With this new funding, we can now use that important information to improve diagnosis, identify biomarkers for disease and develop much needed new therapies for patients.”

It has been estimated that over 1.4 million people in the United States have Dementia with Lewy Bodies, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. However, there are no drugs approved to treat the symptoms nor treatments that offer meaningful hope for a cure.

Through the consortium, researchers from the clinical sites have collected clinical information, imaging scans and biospecimens from more than 150 patients into a centralized database. The team analyzes the data to understand associations between certain patient characteristics and faster rates of decline over time to better predict outcomes.

“Dementia with Lewy Bodies research has previously been hindered by the need for large groups of patients to study in a consistent manner over time,” said Dr. Leverenz. “This consortium addresses this issue by bringing together a group of experts and providing the infrastructure to study a large number of patients from across the country. By expanding our collaborative research, our aim is to better understand the biology of this disease and improve outcomes for patients.”

The NIH grant is project number: 2 U01 NS100610-06. Additional funding comes from the Lewy Body Dementia Association and the Douglas Herthel DVM Memorial Fund.

If you or a family member are interested in enrolling in this research study, please contact the Cleveland Clinic Center for Brain Health at 216-445-9009 or CBHresearch@ccf.org.

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. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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