Top Dementia Scientists Present Key Findings, Initiatives

UCSF Experts Address CTAD Conference on Pharma-Free Intervention; Patient Data Repository; First Trial of svPPA Treatment

By Suzanne Leigh

Dementia experts from UC San Francisco will present research at the annual Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) conference in San Francisco.

The CTAD conference will feature top neurologists, clinicians and memory loss researchers coming from as far afield as Stockholm and Seoul to demonstrate new findings and initiatives in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia afflicting an estimated 6.5 million Americans. The conference, which is sold out for in-person attendance, will run from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.

Presentations include updates on diagnostic biomarkers, anti-amyloid therapies and tau-targeting drugs, Alzheimer’s vaccines and non-pharmaceutical interventions.

President of the CTAD22 Scientific Committee, Michael Weiner, MD, professor of radiology, medicine and neurology at UCSF, noted that it has only been 15 years since imaging techniques have enabled Alzheimer’s disease to be identified in living people. “Now amyloid PET is widely available, tau PET is being employed by many clinical trials, and, very recently, blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease have shown great promise for screening and even diagnosis,” he said.

Weiner said that he expects many attendees to be drawn to presentations on anti-amyloid therapies, especially lecanemab and donanemab, which have shown promising results. “There is growing evidence that some of these therapies appear to slow cognitive decline. Unfortunately, these treatments are also associated with abnormal differences seen in imaging, including brain swelling and bleeding in the brain,” he said. “There is considerable controversy concerning the significance and impact of these findings, including whether or not governments and medical insurance will provide financial coverage for such treatments.”

UCSF presentations include:

Kristine Yaffe, MD, will present results of SMARRT (systematic multi-domain Alzheimer’s risk reduction trial), a two-year randomized pilot study of 172 older adults with two or more modifiable Alzheimer’s disease risk factors, self-reported memory concerns and low-normal performance on a cognitive screen. The study is rooted in the theory that up to 30% of Alzheimer’s disease may be attributed to modifiable risks. Participants in the intervention group worked with a nurse/coach to reduce risk factors. Yaffe will report on the intervention’s impact on participants’ cognition and risk factors. The presentation takes place on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 3:30 p.m.

Gil Rabinovici, MD, will co-present the ALZ-NET initiative (Alzheimer’s network for treatment and diagnostics), with co-principal investigators Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, of the Alzheimer’s Association, and Michael Rafii, MD, PhD, of the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute at the University of Southern California. ALZ-NET was launched to gather longitudinal data on FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments in the “real world,” versus the tightly controlled environment of clinical trials, in order to address critical questions in dementia care. ALZ-NET will collect demographic, cognitive, neurological, genetic and biomarker data from participating clinical sites, serving as a central resource to share information on patient outcomes, including adverse effects. The presentation takes place on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 12:15 p.m.

Peter Ljubenkov, MD, and Adam Boxer, MD, PhD, will introduce Veri-T, a phase 1, placebo-controlled study of verdiperstat, which will enroll up to 64 patients with a subtype of frontal temporal dementia, known as svPPA, affecting speech and language. The condition is associated with a buildup of the protein TDP-43 in the temporal lobe, the part of the brain controlling speech and language. The study, the first to treat patients with svPPA, is based on research that shows that oxidative stress may be driving brain inflammation in diseases associated with TDP-43. Verdiperstat is known to block oxidative stress from the brain’s immune system, and it is hoped that it may delay the trajectory of svPPA in some patients. TDP-43 pathology is a hallmark of other neurodegenerative disorders and may be present in one in five patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The presentation takes place on Friday, Dec. 2, at 1:45 p.m.