Last updated on October 2018

Natural History and Biomarkers of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Dementia Caused by the C9ORF72 Gene Mutation

Brief description of study

  • Some people have a mutation in the C9ORF72 gene that causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The mutation causes a small piece of DNA to repeat itself thousands of times. The C9ORF gene mutation mostly occurs in families. In those families, some persons have ALS and others have FTD. Occasionally the C9ORF gene mutation occurs in persons without a family history. Researchers want to understand how this gene causes different diseases. They will study how symptoms caused by the C9ORF gene develop and change over time. They will measure symptoms that occur in ALS and in FTD. In particular, they will measure strength, ability to move, thinking, and memory. They will also see if other tests are associated with progression of disease. These tests, called biomarkers, may help detect or measure C9ORF72 disease in the future.
  • To understand how symptoms change over time in people with mutations in a gene called C9ORF72, which causes ALS and FTD.
  • Adults over age 18 who have this genetic mutation
  • Participants will have up to 4 in-person visits and 3 telephone interviews over 3 years. Each in-person visit may take place over several days. They may be either inpatient or outpatient visits.
  • At each visit, participants will undergo a series of brain, language, and behavior tests. These will include:
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. This uses magnets, radio waves, and computers to produce detailed pictures of the brain.
  • Collecting spinal fluid. The clinician will make the participant s back numb and then insert a needle to collect fluid.

<TAB>- Blood samples will be taken.

<TAB>- Participants will be asked to perform several language and movement tests.

<TAB>- Small skin samples will be taken on one visit

  • Between visits, participants will answer questions about their health over the phone 3 times.

Detailed Study Description


The primary objective of this study is to characterize the natural history of disease in patients who carry a repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene, which causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The secondary objective is to assess whether candidate biomarkers correlate with disease progression.

Study population

62 persons with a documented repeat expansion in C9ORF72 gene who have ALS, ALS-FTD, or FTD or who are carriers of the gene mutation and have a symptomatic family member.


Participants will undergo a structured battery of clinical and neuropsychological tests at enrollment and at three follow-up visits to NIH to assess disease severity. During these visits, physiological, imaging, blood, and CSF for testing of candidate biomarkers will be obtained. Between visits to NIH, assessments of functional status and cognition will be carried out by phone. Participants may be seen earlier than the scheduled follow-up visit or at home if phone assessments indicate clinical deterioration.

Outcome measures

There will be three primary outcome measures, for changes in three areas of function over the first six months. The primary measure of the severity of motor clinical function will be the ALS Functional rating scale-revised (ALSFRS-R). The primary measure of the severity of cognitive function will be changes in verbal fluency score. The primary measure of the severity of behavioral dysfunction will be the caregiver assessment of the fronto-behavioral index (FBI). Secondary clinical outcomes will be the forced vital capacity (FVC) and survival. The correlation between primary and secondary clinical outcome measures and candidate biomarkers measures will be analyzed in an exploratory fashion to determine whether candidate biomarkers are predictive of disease onset or progression.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT01925196

Contact Investigators or Research Sites near you

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For more information at the ...

National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD United States

Recruitment Status: Closed

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