The National Institute of Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of health (NIH) and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), awarded five year grants of $3.2 million and $1.4 million respectively to scientists from Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health to study the therapeutic potential of the anti-cancer drug lenalidomide in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Part of the “Repurposing Lenalidomide for Early Alzheimer’s Treatment,” the study is led by Marwan Sabbagh, MD, and Boris Decourt, PhD, of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada. Comprising two complimentary clinical studies, the team aims to better understand if lenalidomide reduces inflammation and other disease-related neuropathological features, while improving cognition in those experiencing mild cognitive impairment. In the meantime, Las Vegas continues to become a more interesting center for neurodegenerative research thanks to the prominent research center’s presence there.
Lenalidomide a New Approach for an FDA Approved Drug
One of a few multi-purpose agents demonstrating several effects on the immune system in cancer patients, the study of this drug in Alzheimer’s patients is a relatively new approach. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lenalidomide’s safety and toxicity profiles have already been established, which will help accelerate testing and progression in Alzheimer’s clinical studies if the present project is successful.
First approved back in 2005, the drug is sold under the trade name Revlimid among others. It’s used to treat multiple myeloma as well as myelodysplastic syndromes. The drug is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. The branded product is made by Bristol Myers Squibb.
The two studies will recruit participants with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease/MCI at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. In the first NIH-funded study the sponsor will lead a 20-month Phase 2 investigation evaluating the effect of long-term use of lenalidomide on cognition, along with safety and tolerability.
Meanwhile, in the second ADDF-supported six-month Phase 2 study, the team investigates the short-term use of lenalidomide in 45 participants with an aim to better understand safety and effects on blood and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers.
Note that the work of Dr. Sabbagh, is also supported by the Camille and Larry Ruvo Endowed Chair for Brain Health.
Dr. Sabbagh was recently on the record: “To date, disease modifying therapies have only used a single drug approach to target Alzheimer’s pathologies and they have all failed. These grants will help us explore a novel approach in reducing several pathologies simultaneously.” Dr. Sabbagh continued, “With its dual mechanistic nature, lenalidomide is particularly intriguing because it has the potential to both reduce chronic inflammation and lower amyloid beta loads in the brain, which are both indicators of Alzheimer’s disease.”
About the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
Based in Las Vegas, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health opened May 2010. Larry Ruvo, manager of a Nevada business founded Keep Memory Alive in memory of his father, Lou Ruvo, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease, along with his wife Camille and Bobby Baldwin, CEO of Mirage Resorts, who also lost his father to the disease.
Marwan Sabbagh, MD, Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
Boris Decourt, PhD, Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health