You thought Alzheimer’s was complicated? Or Parkinson’s? Try dementia with Lewy bodies, the common disease occupying the territory between those two poles. DLB is heterogeneous and often overlooked. Yet the International Dementia with Lewy Bodies Conference held earlier this month in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, showcased a field coming into its own. For four days, four hundred researchers, patients, care partners, and other stakeholders traded new insights. Because this conference last convened about a decade ago, there was much to learn. Over the din of disease classification debates that perennially accompany spectrum diseases, the meeting reflected a field trying to build on a broadly accepted consensus diagnosis, its unifying foundation. Pharmaceutical companies are dipping in their toes, GWAS are ramping up, and prodromal biomarker cohorts are forming. Farthest ahead is Japan—the only country that has annual DLB conferences, an approved medication, and arguably the best diagnostic scan standardized across centers.
At their international conference, DLB researchers demonstrated progress in defining a distinct identify for this Alzheimer’s-Parkinson’s overlap disease. This has helped prepare DLB for more therapeutics trials.
At the International Dementia with Lewy Bodies conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, fuzzy images of dying sympathetic cardiac nerve terminals proved to be a sharp aide to clinch this notoriously difficult diagnosis.
At a DLB meeting, scientists reported progress in disentangling the notorious overlap in symptoms and pathology in this quintessential spectrum disease. (Hint: tangles are bad.)
In dementia with Lewy bodies, basic scans are used in routine diagnosis. Multimodal imaging and new PET tracers for affected neurotransmitters of pathological deposits in the brain and gut are entering research settings.
How α-synuclein aggregates spread, quite possibly starting in the nose in some people, sets DLB apart from its better-known cousins, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
When clinicians and pathologists argue, sometimes genetics can settle the dispute. How about DLB?