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NIH Earmarks $3.5M for Lewy Body Dementia Biomarker Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced that it will commit $3.5 million to fund research identifying and developing biomarkers for Lewy body dementias (LBDs).

LBDs comprise two related neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the abnormal accumulation of alpha-synuclein in the brain — dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD). The conditions primarily differ in the timing of the onset of cognitive and movement symptoms. 

In 2012, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) established the Parkinson's Disease Biomarker Program (PDBP) to foster collaboration between ongoing Parkinson's disease biomarker research, standardize data collection and management in the projects, and accelerate the discovery of new biomarkers. 

In light of research suggesting there are different pathophysiological mechanisms underlying various syndromes in which Parkinson's disease and dementia are comorbid, and based on the recommendations of participants at two recent NINDS workshops on Alzheimer's disease-related dementias and Parkinson's disease, the NIH aims to broaden the patient groups included in the PDBP. 

To that end, the NIH has set aside $3.5 million in fiscal year 2016 funding to support five to seven research projects that expand PDBP's collection of longitudinal clinical and biospecimen data to include data and samples from individuals diagnosed with LBDs.

Specifically, the NIH intends to fund projects involving the collection of clinical and neuroimaging data, as well as specimens including whole blood, plasma, serum, cerebrospinal fluid, and urine peripheral blood mononuclear cells for induced pluripotent stem cell derivation from patients with PDD or DLB.

Also appropriate for this funding opportunity are clinical studies aiming to discover potential LBD biomarkers, including ones based on a single measure or a panel of measurements, that can be used to improve differential diagnosis, identify risk of disease, or predict disease progression. Such studies would ideally be longitudinal and include women, minorities, and other groups traditionally underrepresented in clinical research.

Additional details about the funding opportunity can be found here.

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