Challenges and opportunities for improving the landscape for Lewy body dementia clinical trials

Jennifer G. Goldman, Leah K. Forsberg, Bradley F. Boeve, Melissa J. Armstrong, David J. Irwin, Tanis J. Ferman, Doug Galasko, James E. Galvin, Daniel Kaufer, James Leverenz, Carol F. Lippa, Karen Marder, Victor Abler, Kevin Biglan, Michael Irizarry, Bill Keller, Leanne Munsie, Masaki Nakagawa, Angela Taylor, Todd Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Lewy body dementia (LBD), including dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia, affects over a million people in the USA and has a substantial impact on patients, caregivers, and society. Symptomatic treatments for LBD, which can include cognitive, neuropsychiatric, autonomic, sleep, and motor features, are limited with only two drugs (cholinesterase inhibitors) currently approved by regulatory agencies for dementia in LBD. Clinical trials represent a top research priority, but there are many challenges in the development and implementation of trials in LBD. To address these issues and advance the field of clinical trials in the LBDs, the Lewy Body Dementia Association formed an Industry Advisory Council (LBDA IAC), in addition to its Research Center of Excellence program. The LBDA IAC comprises a diverse and collaborative group of experts from academic medical centers, pharmaceutical industries, and the patient advocacy foundation. The inaugural LBDA IAC meeting, held in June 2019, aimed to bring together this group, along with representatives from regulatory agencies, to address the topic of optimizing the landscape of LBD clinical trials. This review highlights the formation of the LBDA IAC, current state of LBD clinical trials, and challenges and opportunities in the field regarding trial design, study populations, diagnostic criteria, and biomarker utilization. Current gaps include a lack of standardized clinical assessment tools and evidence-based management strategies for LBD as well as difficulty and controversy in diagnosing LBD. Challenges in LBD clinical trials include the heterogeneity of LBD pathology and symptomatology, limited understanding of the trajectory of LBD cognitive and core features, absence of LBD-specific outcome measures, and lack of established standardized biologic, imaging, or genetic biomarkers that may inform study design. Demands of study participation (e.g., travel, duration, and frequency of study visits) may also pose challenges and impact trial enrollment, retention, and outcomes. There are opportunities to improve the landscape of LBD clinical trials by harmonizing clinical assessments and biomarkers across cohorts and research studies, developing and validating outcome measures in LBD, engaging the patient community to assess research needs and priorities, and incorporating biomarker and genotype profiling in study design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number137
JournalAlzheimer's Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Biomarker
  • Clinical trial readiness
  • Dementia
  • Lewy bodies
  • Neuropsychology
  • Outcome measure
  • Parkinsonism
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Primary endpoint
  • Randomized controlled trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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