Management of frontotemporal dementia: targeting symptom management in such a heterogeneous disease requires a wide range of therapeutic options

Neurodegener Dis Manag. 2011 Apr;1(2):141-156. doi: 10.2217/nmt.11.9.


There are no US FDA-approved therapies for the management of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Evidence-based medicine that would support a FDA indication for the treatment of FTD requires large-scale, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that do not currently exist. Progress in obtaining approval and therapeutic indications for FTD has been severely hampered by the heterogeneity of clinical and pathological phenotypes seen in various FTD disease states. These issues are often misinterpreted by clinicians, caregivers and patients suggesting that potential treatment options are nonexistent for this devastating disease. This article discusses these issues in the context of recent studies and publications investigating therapeutic options in FTD, and further suggests a rationale for individualized therapy in FTD. Targeting the myriad of symptoms seen in FTD requires recognition of such symptoms that may play primary or secondary roles in the spectrum of deficits that lead to functional disability in FTD, and the availability of a wide range of therapeutic options that may be helpful in alleviating such symptomatology. Fortunately, agents targeting the many cognitive, behavioral, psychiatric and motor symptoms that can be seen in FTD are readily available, having been previously developed and approved for symptomatic benefit in other disease states. In contrast to the widespread belief that beneficial treatments are not available for FTD today, our therapeutic armament is stocked with pharmacological tools that may improve quality of life for those suffering from this devastating and incurable class of degenerative diseases.