• By Dana Sparks

Discovery’s Edge: Dementia mysteries untangled

August 29, 2017

In the world of scientific research, a decade can go by without major findings on what’s known about a disease. But over the past 10 years, researchers have been charting the map regarding the condition known as frontotemporal dementia. This debilitating early-onset neuro-degenerative disorder has ties to Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Many of those findings have emerged from neuroscience labs at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, where research is pushing toward better diagnosis and treatments. One of the top researchers is neurogeneticist Rosa Rademakers, Ph.D., who took up the reins in pursuit of frontotemporal dementia genes and quickly became a world leader in the field.

A Confusing Condition

If you haven’t heard of frontotemporal dementia, it’s not surprising. The disease has long confounded researchers and physicians. Frontotemporal dementia is known to affect as many as 50,000 people in the United States, ranking as the second- leading cause of presenile neurodegeneration after Alzheimer’s disease.

But the clinical signs can be hard to pinpoint. Symptoms include strange and sudden behavioral changes, such as social inappropriateness, apathy, poor hygiene, hoarding, and sometimes, progressive loss of language. Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.
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