On the horizon? – lithium study in PSP

In January ’07, Glenn, a member of the CBD-related Yahoo!Group reported on a trip with his mother (diagnosed with CBD) to Mayo Rochester. Contained in one of the posts (2/3/07) is short mention of lithium:

“Lithium — They had high hopes for lithium because it so effectively
blocked GSK-3B in the lab, but it blocks a number of other things as
well. Mayo had ten patients on lithium and they all elected to cease
treatment because the side effects were so bad.”

Glenn’s father accompanied his mother to Mayo Rochester in Feb ’08. Yesterday Glenn posted a report on his visit. His father raised the topic of lithium with the Mayo Rochester MD:

“The main thing my father wanted to consult with them about was lithium. He has been reading the literature that points to lithium as a potent tau inhibitor. A very recent study released last month showed lithium halting and even reversing some of the tau damage in one of the first human trials. (I have not yet found this study online–I will forward it when I find it.) The Mayo docs said that the study was highly significant (“blockbuster” was the word they used). This backs up what the animal models have been showing in other studies. My father had been talking to a psychiatrist in Pittsburgh who frequently prescribes lithium for bipolar disorder and has gotten very good at monitoring patients who take the drug. In the case of bipolar disorder, the downsides of lithium must not be worse than the downsides of being bipolar. However, the Mayo docs confessed, that neurologists have never much cared for lithium. ‘Psychiatrists put people on lithium and neurologists take them off,’ he said, because of other neurological side-effects lithium can create. The have had a few CBD patients try lithium, but none of them stayed on it very long. However, the Mayo docs were very aware of the increasing evidence in favor of lithium. To be sure, not every study shows it having a dramatic effect, but there is enough evidence there to try it. Not many people have tried it for CBD or even Alzhiemers, and maybe the key to treatment is close monitoring of the drug dosage and effects.

So here is what my parents are planning to do: The doc at Mayo will be working with the ‘lithium-literate’ psych in Pittsburgh and my mother’s local neurologist as well. They will work out a plan for starting her on lithium and tracking her progress. This involves starting with very low doses, then working up until the side-effects are bad and then backing off. I assume they will be running other tests during the treatment as well. We’ll see how it goes!

In other news, I mentioned last year that Mayo was working on another potentially potent tau-blocking drug. They said that the main researcher for the drug is now working with Merck and has access to their resources to bring the drug to market. No idea what kind of timeframe, of course.

They recently began deep brain stimulation on another CBD patient and the jury is still out. It seems to be helping a little, but the location and amount of stimulation are crucial to effective treatment, so it could take some experimentation to get it right.”

I don’t know anything about the tau-blocking drug. This would be useful in AD, PSP, and CBD — all tauopathies. As some of you see MDs at Mayo Rochester, please ask about this during your next appt!

About the exciting lithium study recently published, I did a PubMed search yesterday and couldn’t find anything on lithium and PSP, CBD, or tau published in late ’07 or early ’08. I will try to follow up with a Mayo Rochester MD on this. As some of you see MDs at Mayo Rochester, please ask about this during your next appt!

I’ve been emailing the PSP expert, Dr. Lawrence Golbe, about lithium for many months. (He writes an “Ask the Doctor” column in the CurePSP Magazine.) I finally heard this from him today. Apparently on the horizon is an NIH-funded study of lithium in PSP patients. Here’s his very short email:

“There is no PI yet. There will be 10 sites in the US, Canada and UK and they have not yet been chosen. It will be 28 weeks of treatment with no placebo group.”
(PI = principal investigator)

I’ll update you when I get more info. Could you all please do the same!?