Potential New Treatment for Early-Onset Dementia

Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is one of the clinical syndromes seen in patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and is the second most common form of dementia in younger patients.

Around 45% of bvFTD cases are caused by excessive tau protein in the brain, which interferes with neuronal structure and leads to neurodegeneration. Levels of an enzyme called phosphatase 2 (PP2A) are linked to reduced levels of neurodegeneration, and stabilizing this enzyme may help reduce tau build-ups.

In animal studies, sodium selenate has been shown to upregulate brain PP2A activity and reduce hyperphosphorylated tau levels. 

Study Development and Results

In a recently published study, researchers assessed the safety and tolerability of sodium selenate for the treatment of dementia. The study appears in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions.

The team performed a phase 1b trial in Melbourne, Australia. It included a total of 12 participants that received sodium selenate (15 mg 3 times a day) for 52 weeks. 

Clinical measures included MRI scans at baseline and at week 52 to calculate brain volume change, alongside blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples to verify changes in neurodegenerative markers.

The team found that sodium selenate was safe and well-tolerated by patients with frontotemporal dementia. They also experienced no change in tau levels following treatment.


Lucy Vivash, et al. A phase 1b open-label study of sodium selenate as a disease-modifying treatment for possible behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia. 2022. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions. https://doi.org/10.1002/trc2.12299 

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