Research News

Using a procedure called a lumbar puncture (or spinal tap), researchers can now diagnose two Lewy body disorders with a high degree of accuracy - dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease. While very encouraging, more research is needed to know if the test results during life will match brain autopsy results.

Researchers in Japan published promising data on a Phase II clinical trial on an existing seizure medication in people with dementia with Lewy bodies. When used as an add-on treatment to levodopa, zonisamide improved motor symptoms in DLB without worsening psychiatric symptoms, a common side-effect in DLB. These findings require replication in a larger series of patients (i.e. Phase III trial) but suggest this medication may be potentially useful in a subset of DLB patients with motor symptoms that are less responsive to standard levodopa treatment

The first large-scale genome-wide association study was recently completed in people with dementia with Lewy bodies, hinting at unique genetic differences between DLB, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. The findings confirmed previously reported associations of variations in three genes that increase the risk of a person developing DLB. Those genes are APOE, SNCA and GBA. A new gene, CNTN1, was also identified as one that may increase risk of DLB. 

The National Institute of Health recently awarded 4 more grants to leading academic centers in the US, in an effort to speed the development of widely-available biological tests for LBD. 

One missing link in LBD research is a test that confirms the underlying biological signs of DLB in a living person. Finding these biomarkers in LBD requires a network of many researchers working together.

This at-a-glance resource provides an update to healthcare professionals on the new diagnostic criteria for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)

New research suggests skin biopsies may hold strong potential to help diagnose dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

Microscopic protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, are present in the brain long before a person has enough symptoms to be diagnosed with Lewy body dementia (LBD). A new study identifies symptoms closely associated with LBD before a person has dementiaa - during the mild cognitive impairment stage. 

New criteria for diagnosing dementia with Lewy bodies now allows clinicians to combine both clinical  symptoms with biomarker test results. This provides healthcare professionals greater flexibility for diagnosis a disorder which presents in a variety of ways.

One of the top research priorities in LBD is to find a biomarker. What’s a biomarker and why is it so important in LBD research? Get the answer and learn how you can help researchers in their pursuit for LBD biomarkers.

A 5-year study of people with a condition called pure autonomic failure reveals the diagnosis may change over time to a Lewy body disorder, such as LBD, Parkinson's disease, or multiple system atrophy.

Smell may be a indicator of the likelihood of developing dementia.

Jan. 2017 - Preliminary clinical trial results show improvement in the motor skills of those with Lewy body dementia (LBD).

Jan, 2017 - The rate of progression in Lewy body dementia (LBD) is hard to predict at the time of diagnosis. New research indicates the presence of a second neurodegenerative disease process, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), has an impact on one’s prognosis.

Sept, 2016 - We are entering an era of unprecedented opportunity for understanding and treating Lewy body dementia (LBD). Our newest white paper, Lewy Body Dementia: The State of the Science provides the LBD community an easy-to-read overview of key major findings to date in LBD research. The report also highlights a vast array of opportunities to drive research progress forward.

May, 2016 - The use of antipsychotic medications in Lewy body dementias is a known challenge. Are the medications helpful and safe? A recent Parkinson’s disease study suggests there is reason for concern. However, new hope is on the horizon with the FDA’s approval of a new treatment for hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease.

June, 2015 - Lewy body pathology is found in up to 50% of cases of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which can make it challenging for physicians to distinguish the underlying cause or causes of dementia symptoms. The diagnostic problem is compounded because Lewy bodies alone can result in Lewy body dementia.  A new study shines new light on important clinical differences between people who have autopsy-verified Alzheimer’s disease pathology alone versus those who have both Alzheimer’s and Lewy bodies.

Jan, 2015 - Dementia is often preceded by an earlier phase called mild cognitive impairment (MCI), where an individual is still able to live independently, but notices changes in at least one area of cognition, such as memory or language.

Jan, 2015 - Drowsiness and daytime sleepiness are often described by individuals with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and their caregivers, even in the earliest stagest of DLB.

Dec. 2014 - Donepezil has been approved in Japan to treat dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

Dec, 2014 - An international panel of leaders in LBD research met recently to discuss research opportunities and challenges in the field of Lewy body dementias.

Sept, 2014 - A recent study showed that memantine, a medication commonly used for Alzheimer’s disease, improves two important areas of cognitive function in Lewy body dementia.

Dec, 2013 - Diagnosing dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is challenging both for specialists and primary care physicians. A new composite risk score may aid in differentiating DLB from other forms of dementia.

Sept, 2013 - There are only a few known risk factors for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) to date, including advanced age and male sex. A new study compared for the first time the frequency of risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in individuals with DLB.

Mar, 2013 - Research demonstrates that autonomic dysfunction predicts a shorter survival time in these disorders. Little is known about how autonomic dysfunction affects survival in Lewy body dementias. Read more on the latest study by Dr. Kajsa Stubendorff of Lund University in Sweden.

May, 2013 - A study by Tanis Ferman, PhD and colleagues at Mayo Clinic assessed the progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to different forms of dementia. Read this latest study presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in March 2013.

May, 2013 - REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a condition that causes a person to physically act out their dreams and is a common in Lewy body dementia (LBD). New research indicates that the presence of RBD in a man with dementia is a strong indicator of Lewy body dementia over Alzheimer’s disease.

Apr, 2013 - New research reveals the onset of visual hallucinations within five years of developing dementia increases the odds of pathology-confirmed Lewy body disease four to five times over Alzheimer’s disease. 

Apr, 2013 - Lewy body pathology is found in the brains of 10 to 30 percent of older adults without any Parkinsonian motor symptoms and is called incidental Lewy body disease (ILBD). Research suggests that ILBD may represent a ‘preclinical’ stage of Parkinson’s disease (PD) that occurs before symptoms develop. 

June 12, 2012 - New research at Rush University Medical Center suggests earlier Parkinson’s diagnosis may be found by using colonoscopy.

December 31, 2007 - The combination of cognitive, motor and behavioral symptoms create a highly challenging set of demands for continuing care.

March 16, 2011 - Do you know the difference between a CT scan, an MRI, or SPECT or PET scans? LBDA has put together a helpful overview on the different types of brain imaging and how they help differentiate between forms of dementia.

May 11, 2011 - Scientists studying alpha-synuclein, the protein involved in Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease, have found that in its natural, healthy state the protein has a radically different structure than previously thought.

June 29, 2011 - GE Healthcare announced recently the availability of DaTscan™ (Ioflupane I 123 Injection), in more than 80 hospitals across the US. DaTscan is the first FDA-approved radiopharmaceutical adjunct imaging agent to help physicians evaluate patients with suspected parkinsonian syndromes, such as Parkinson's disease (PD). 

January 20, 2012 - New guidelines on diagnosing Alzheimer's will also improve the rate of detection of Lewy bodies and changes of other neurodegenerative disease at autopsy.

12/20/2012 - Capgras syndrome is a fairly common delusion is a recurrent, temporary belief that a familiar person, often a close family member or caregiver, or location has been replaced by an identical imposter. Read the latest research from the Pearl I. Barlow Center for Memory Evaluation and Treatment at the NYU Medical Center.

Jan, 2013 - While Lewy body disease can exist in a "pure" form — with little or no co-existing Alzheimer’s disease — at least half of individuals with Lewy body disease also have significant amounts of Alzheimer’s pathology. Research now reveals that a genetic variant that increases the risk of developing both early- and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease has been identified to also be a risk factor for Lewy body disorders.