University of San Francisco California
2014 Robert Katzman, MD, Clinical Research Training Fellowship in Alzheimer’s Research Cosponsored by the American Brain Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association
Target brain disease(s): Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (dementia)
Project goal: Use magnetoencephalography to identify biomarkers in the brain to help accurately diagnose Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD).
Project description: FTLD is a group of disorders that primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain—the areas generally associated with personality, behavior, and language. Patients with this disorder have problems with behavior, language skills, or executive abilities (e.g. planning, organizing) which lead to dementia and can have devastating consequences for both patients and their loved ones. As a result, they become alienated from loved ones, and are unable to plan daily activities, understand the meaning of words, or even express their thoughts while their memory is relatively intact. This work used magnetoencephalography, a noninvasive, safe technique to capture the patient’s brain activity in order to detect a breakdown of communication between affected brain cells. The aim was to identify biomarkers that could help accurately diagnose FTLD early on, improve prognosis of what lies ahead, and eventually evaluate patients’ response to treatment. As FTLD therapies start to emerge, early and accurate diagnosis will be extremely important in order to stop the degenerative process early on.
Funding: Received $130,000 in research funds.