The Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Mayo Clinic promotes research and education about healthy brain aging, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia and other dementia disorders.

Lewy body dementia research

Mayo Clinic researchers are studying Lewy body dementia, which is a progressive, incurable and fatal condition that diminishes a person's ability to think, remember and move. It also can result in disturbing behavioral and mood issues.

Although the disease affects an estimated 1.4 million people in the U.S., Lewy body dementia is still relatively unfamiliar to the public and even to many health care providers.

Mayo Clinic neuroscientist Pamela J. McLean, Ph.D., is leading the international study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. The goal is to better understand Lewy body dementia's diagnosis, progression and possible therapeutic targets.

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NIH-funded research consortium to target frontotemporal lobar degeneration

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a five-year, multi-investigator research grant expected to total more than $63 million to Mayo Clinic and the University of California, San Francisco to advance treatments for (FTLD), a group of neurodegenerative disorders that primarily affect areas of the brain associated with personality, behavior, memory and language.

Unlike Alzheimer's disease, which typically affects people over 65 and often progresses slowly, FTLD frequently affects people in their 40s, 50s and 60s who are still working and raising families. It often leads to rapid cognitive and physical decline, and death, in less than 10 years. There are no effective treatments.

The new grant merges two ongoing studies to form an integrated North American research consortium. The goal of the new program is to advance cutting-edge knowledge essential for future treatment trials for patients.

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WHO guidelines for reducing dementia risk

The World Health Organization (WHO) publication, "Guidelines for Risk Reduction of Cognitive Decline and Dementia," was developed to strengthen, share and disseminate an evidence base to support policy interventions for reducing potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia. This involves providing a database of available evidence on the prevalence of those risk factors and the impact of reducing them; and supporting the formulation and implementation of evidence-based, multisectoral interventions for reducing the risk of dementia.

The risk reduction guidelines for cognitive decline and dementia are aligned with WHO's mandate to provide evidence-based guidance for a public health response to dementia.

Mayo Clinic neurologist Ronald C. Petersen, M.D., contributed to this publication as a part of the WHO Guideline Development Group. Dr. Petersen is the director of Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and Mayo Clinic Study of Aging.

Read the new guideline.

A new view of Alzheimer's disease

Mayo Clinic neurologist Ronald C. Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleague, neuroradiologist Clifford R. Jack Jr., M.D., are at the forefront of an international reappraisal of Alzheimer's that's changing how the world thinks about the onset and progression of the disease.

Drs. Jack and Petersen co-authored a study in 2010 that was published in The Lancet Neurology. The study argued this point: Alzheimer's disease first appears as amyloid plaques in the brain while cognition is normal. Only much later does the patient progress to mild cognitive impairment and then dementia. For that reason, the disease should be defined by its underlying biology — the formation of plaques — and not the symptoms of dementia it eventually produces.

In 2018, Dr. Jack and a team of colleagues published a "research framework" with the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association that detailed how Alzheimer's disease would be diagnosed by its biological markers, not by dementia. By the use of biomarkers, patients no longer have to wait for the clinical symptoms. The disease can be identified in its incipient state, making earlier intervention possible.

Dr. Petersen is the director of Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Dr. Jack is the Alexander Family Professor of Alzheimer's Disease Research.

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