Researchers have identified a new form of dementia. Known as LATE, it shares many similarities with Alzheimer’s disease, but tends to lead to a more gradual decline in memory.

LATE (limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy) appears to be linked to the accumulation of a protein called TDP-43 in the brain, whereas Alzheimer’s is linked to the proteins amyloid beta and tau.

Up to a third of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may instead have LATE. Some people may also have both types of disease.

What does this mean for future research?

Researchers say LATE may explain why some recent trials of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease have been unsuccessful.

Treatments may have effectively treated the proteins that cause damage in Alzheimer’s disease, but LATE may have continued, masking any improvements to Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Professor Martin Rossor, NIHR National Director for Dementia Research, explains:

Professor Martin Rossor, NIHR National Director for Dementia Research

“The protein TDP-43 has been known to be associated with certain forms of frontotemporal  dementia and motoneuron disease.

It was also discovered recently that TDP-43 is quite common in the brains of the very old. The importance of this paper is that it provides some criteria for diagnosis and staging of late life TDP-43, which is called Limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (LATE).

This will be an important boost to research. It remains to seen how easy it will be to diagnose, especially since it is commonly associated with the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles seen in Alzheimer’s disease.”

Find out more on the NHS website.

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