Therapeutic trial design for frontotemporal dementia and related disorders
The frontotemporal dementia (FTD) spectrum is a heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative syndromes with overlapping clinical, molecular and pathological features, all of which challenge the design of clinical trials in these conditions. To date, no pharmacological interventions have been proven effective in significantly modifying the course of these disorders. This study critically reviews the construct and methodology of previously published randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in FTD spectrum disorders in order to identify limitations and potential reasons for negative results. Moreover, recommendations based on the identified gaps are elaborated in order to guide future clinical trial design. A systematic literature review was carried out and presented in conformity with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses criteria. A total of 23 RCTs in cohorts with diagnoses of behavioural and language variants of FTD, corticobasal syndrome and progressive supranuclear palsy syndrome were identified out of the 943 citations retrieved and were included in the qualitative review. Most studies identified were early-phase clinical trials that were small in size, short in duration and frequently underpowered. Diagnoses of populations enrolled in clinical trials were based on clinical presentation and rarely included precision-medicine tools, such as genetic and molecular testing. Uniformity and standardisation of research outcomes in the FTD spectrum are essential. Several elements should be carefully considered and planned in future clinical trials. We anticipate that precision-medicine approaches will be crucial to adequately address heterogeneity in the FTD spectrum research.