New form of dementia discovered at University of Kentucky

Dr. Pete Nelson with the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging discovered 'LATE' dementia

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Scientists at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging in Lexington will be starting the first clinical trial in the world for a new form of dementia, discovered at the center. The new form of dementia is known as ‘LATE’, an acronym for limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy.

Lu-Ann Farrar’s husband, Ned, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2018. Shortly after that initial diagnosis, it was determined he actually had ‘LATE’.

“The first thing I asked Dr. Jicha, I said ‘is this good news or bad news?’ because we didn’t know,” says Lu-Ann. “I’d never heard of it, never heard of ‘LATE’ disease.”

Dr. Pete Nelson with the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging says ‘LATE’ and Alzheimer’s have many of the same symptoms, but ‘LATE’ is a slower-progressing disease.

“What it turned out was, a lot of the people were dying with dementia but they didn’t have Alzheimer’s Disease or they didn’t have enough Alzheimer’s Disease to explain their dementia,” says Nelson. “That was a big, puzzling problem.”

According to the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, about 40% of people over 85 have ‘LATE’. Nelson says the acronym ‘LATE’ also represents the fact that this form of dementia impacts people far later in their life than others.

“It’s been a constant source of pain to me that there’s this problem out here that’s not being dealt with,” says Nelson. “What I realized was was that a big reason it hasn’t been dealt with is that there was more diseases than just one. So you can’t treat it if you don’t know it exists.”

Lu-Ann says this won’t be her husband’s first time taking part in a clinical trial, but he’ll be the first in the world to participate in the trial for ‘LATE’.

“I’d like to think ‘oh, it’s altruistic on my part, nothing but altruism’,” says Lu-Ann. “It’s not. Of course I want my husband to benefit directly from this drug. So, we’ll see.”

Dr. Nelson says being able to start treatments on ‘LATE’ will ultimately help with the research and treatments of Alzheimer’s as well.

There are still spaces available in the ‘LATE’ clinical trial, as well as others offered at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. If you’re interested in learning more or want to set up an appointment, visit the website HERE or call (859)323-5550.

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