As trialists are retooling in the face of disappointing results in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), researchers in frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) are learning from AD woes and gearing up to take a seat in the front row. This year’s 4th International Conference on Clinical Trials in Alzheimer’s Disease, (CTAD), held 3-5 November 2011 in San Diego, California, included a session on preparing for treatment trials in FTD. Presenters made the case that trials in FTD may stand a better chance of succeeding than those in AD. As research has uncovered many molecular pathways common to FTD and related disorders ranging from the common (AD) to the rare amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), any treatments developed for FTD may have broad applications and energize the field of neurodegeneration as a whole.
The session at CTAD represented the third meeting of the fledging FTD Treatment Study Group (FTSG). Since its inception in 2010 the group has been trying to drum up interest from pharmaceutical companies in conducting FTD trials (see ARF related news story). The reason for holding the meeting at CTAD was to catch a “broader audience who might not be involved in the FTD field at the moment,” said David Knopman of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “We wanted to see if we could attract clinical trialists from other areas and pique their interest by highlighting some of the new developments in FTD.”
The meeting also marked the beginning of FTSG’s formal association with The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD), a not-for-profit advocacy group that will serve as FTSG’s home, at least initially. “Being adopted by AFTD will allow us to grow and raise funds to help foster FTD drug development,” said Adam Boxer, University of California, San Francisco, who leads the FTSG. The funds will be used, for example, to encourage companies to share compounds that they might have otherwise abandoned so that they can be tested in FTD animal models. The funds will also help educate regulatory agencies about FTD-specific issues, further develop clinical trial methods, and create a patient registry, explained Boxer.