Mayo Clinic will get a $5.4 million federal grant to study a type of dementia.
Mayo neurologist Dr. Bradley Boeve was awarded the grant to study 300 members of families affected by familial forms of frontotemporal dementia.
That dementia is "characterized by severe changes in personality, behavior and language due to loss of gray matter in the brain's frontal and temporal lobes."
The five-year study will look at changes in genes associated with the disorder, according to an announcement from Mayo.
Frontotemporal dementia is rare, but can affect even people as young as their teens, according to Mayo.
About 50,000 Americans are believed to live with the condition, "the second-most-common type of dementia in people younger than 65."
The grant money comes from three arms of the National Institutes of Health.
"FTD is devastating for affected individuals and their relatives," Boeve said in the Mayo statement. "The features of FTD span dozens of other psychological, psychiatric, medical and neurological disorders, so patients often go for months, even years before being properly diagnosed. The research grant recognizes the importance of current efforts to develop treatments for this disorder, particularly in the pre-symptomatic phase."
Boeve's research is in addition to previous Mayo findings.
In 2011, Mayo neuroscientist Rosa Rademakers identified, at Mayo's campus in Jacksonville, Fla., a short DNA mutation that repeats hundreds to thousands of times in the C9ORF72 gene. It's the most-common cause of familial ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and a "major cause" of familial frontotemporal dementia.
in 2013, Leonard Petrucelli, chair of the Mayo Department of Neuroscience, "uncovered a potentially new therapeutic target and biomarker" for ALS and frontotemporal dementia.
The Jacksonville researchers, alongside Boeve, were awarded a five-year grant to continue their research.