People who have LBD plus changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease tend to have more aggressive disease progression. However, science has not yet explained why these two disease processes seem to have a synergistic effect. In response to strategic research recommendations for LBD, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders has awarded a 5-year grant totaling $14 million to form an international research consortium to delve into the basic biology of LBD.
The LBD Center without Walls (CWOW) is an international network of 10 research labs led by director, Dennis Dickson, MD of Mayo Clinic Florida, who is a member of LBDA’s Scientific Advisory Council; and Pamela McLean, PhD, also of Mayo Clinic Florida, who serves as associate director. An impressive roster of renown scientists will be engaged in this multidisciplinary effort and hail from labs at the University of Arizona, Columbia University, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, University College London and University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Four major projects will be supported by this award, with tissue samples provided by the Mayo Clinic Brain Bank. Investigators will explore the interactions in LBD between amyloid-beta (a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease) and alpha-synuclein (a protein associated with LBD). In addition, scientists will delve into the genetics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and lipidomics to understand fundamental changes in the brain of patients who suffered from LBD. Studies focusing on structure and biochemistry of alpha-synuclein may lead to new biomarkers for diagnosis of LBD.
The ultimate aim of the CWOW is to deepen the understanding of how genetics and interactions between amyloid and alpha-synuclein affect symptom presentation, disease progression and the underlying disease process in LBD.
The efforts being undertaken by the LBD CWOW could not be done without the precious gift of brain donations. To learn more about making the ‘ultimate gift’ to LBD research, check out LBDA’s newest Care Brief, Frequently Asked Questions about Brain Donations.