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rTMS as a Treatment for PPA

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT03406429
Recruitment Status : Active, not recruiting
First Posted : January 23, 2018
Last Update Posted : January 18, 2020
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Mark C. Eldaief, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital

Brief Summary:

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) includes three variants. Two such variants, the non-fluent/agrammatic variant (nfvPPA) and the logopenic variant (lvPPA), are characterized by progressive word-finding difficulties and effortful speech. Efforts to slow or halt this progression have been largely unsuccessful. As such, there is a desperate need for novel treatment strategies in PPA.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a safe, non-invasive way of stimulating cortical targets in a focal and reproducible manner. Therapeutic benefits from rTMS have been demonstrated when it is applied in many sequential sessions. For example, repeated sessions of rTMS to left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) is approved by the US Food and Drug administration as a treatment for major depressive disorder. With respect to language, high frequency rTMS increases the response rate for picture naming in healthy individuals. rTMS has also been shown to improve the number of correct naming responses in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Further, in a sham controlled study, Cotelli and colleagues demonstrated that in a group of 10 nfvPPA patients high frequency rTMS over the left and right dlPFC during object and action naming tasks improved the percent of correct responses for action, but not object naming. Finally, in a sham controlled single case study, Finocchiaro et al. applied high frequency rTMS to the left inferior mid-frontal gyrus for 3 sessions consisting of five consecutive days (treatment or sham). They found a significant and lasting improvement in the patient's performance on verb production when comparing active rTMS to sham rTMS or baseline. These studies have contributed valuable insights into the potential use of rTMS in treating the language symptoms of PPA patients.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Logopenic Variant Primary Progressive Aphasia Non-Fluent Primary Progressive Aphasia Device: Active rTMS Device: SHAM rTMS Early Phase 1

Detailed Description:

15-20 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of either nfvPPA or lvPPA (made by a specialized clinician) will be recruited. Patients must have a mild to moderate language impairment and must be native English speakers. Exclusion criteria include contraindications to receiving Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning or rTMS (e.g. metallic or electromagnetically activated implants, cranial mass lesions, surgical aneurysm clips), the presence of significant medical, neurological or psychiatric co-morbid symptoms and patients without study partners.

It will take approximately 2 weeks to complete this research study, but the exact timing will vary according to patient, investigator and equipment availability. Each patient will have a total of up to 11 study visits. Greater than 11 visits may take place in the event that patients' language improves significantly following rTMS in order to test the sustainability of the improvement. Visits will take place at the MGH Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.

The first visit (lasting 3-4 hours) will include obtainment of informed consent, baseline assessments, and a baseline MRI scan (which will be used for subsequent rTMS targeting). After this, patients will return for two blocks of 20Hz rTMS to left dlpfc: one in which they receive active rTMS and one in which they receive sham rTMS. Both active and sham rTMS will be delivered as high frequency stimulation (20 hertz, 20Hz). To accomplish this, an rTMS coil capable of delivering active or sham stimulation will be employed. Order of active and sham blocks will be counterbalanced across participants. During each block rTMS (active or sham) will be administered daily for 5 days (Monday through Friday). Neuropsychological testing, including thorough language evaluations, will be done before and after each block of rTMS. Repeat MRI imaging will be performed at the end of each of the two blocks. rTMS visit durations will be as follows: Monday visits will last approximately 3-4 hours, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday visits will last approximately 1-2 hours and Friday visits will last approximately 5 hours.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Estimated Enrollment : 20 participants
Allocation: N/A
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Intervention Model Description: Within-subject crossover design
Masking: None (Open Label)
Masking Description: Through use of SHAM rTMS stimulation
Primary Purpose: Other
Official Title: Pilot Study of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Patients With Primary Progressive Aphasia.
Actual Study Start Date : December 1, 2019
Estimated Primary Completion Date : January 1, 2021
Estimated Study Completion Date : January 1, 2022

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: PPA patients
All study participants will carry a diagnosis of Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), either the logopenic or the non-fluent variant. All participants will receive the same study interventions in a within-subject crossover design.
Device: Active rTMS
All study participants will receive one block of active rTMS. Each block will consist of daily sessions of 20Hz active rTMS delivered to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) over five days (Monday through Friday).

Device: SHAM rTMS
All study participants will receive one block of SHAM rTMS. Each block will consist of daily sessions of 20Hz SHAM rTMS delivered to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) over five days (Monday through Friday).

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Language Assessment Battery [ Time Frame: At the beginning and end of each rTMS block. ]
    This will include tests of speech production, confrontation naming, sentence completion.

  2. MRI Imaging [ Time Frame: At the baseline visit and at the end of each rTMS block. ]
    This will include observed changes in resting-state functional connectivity and cortical thickness occurring as a result of the stimulation.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 90 Years   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Patients, age 18-90, who carry a diagnosis of either the logopenic (lvPPA) or agrammatic non-fluent (nfvPPA) variants of Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA). Patients must have been observed for at least one year by a specialized clinician.
  2. Patients must have at least mild to moderate language impairment.
  3. Patients must be native English speakers.
  4. Patients must have a study partner (e.g. spouse, sibling or adult child) who can accompany them to every study visit.

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Any history of seizures, unexplained loss of consciousness or a first-degree family member with epilepsy.
  2. Any history of significant co-occurring neurological illness unrelated to neurodegeneration associated with PPA (e.g. multiple sclerosis), or significant medical problems (e.g. poorly controlled diabetes/hypertension or cancer within 5 years).
  3. Active symptoms of major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorder or significant premorbid intellectual disability according to Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-5) criteria.
  4. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) evidence of significant cerebrovascular disease, hydrocephalus or the presence of a space-occupying intra-cranial mass.
  5. Contraindications to MRI or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) including: cardiac pacemaker or pacemaker wires, neurostimulators, implanted pumps, metal in the body (rods, plates, screws, shrapnel, dentures, intrauterine device), surgical aneurysm clips in the head, previous neurosurgery or cochlear implants.
  6. In line with published Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Institutional Review Board (IRB) guidelines for rTMS, pregnancy must be ruled out by urine ß-Human Chorionic Gonadotropin if answers to screening questions suggest that pregnancy is possible and if female participants are premenopausal and of child-bearing age. Subjects will not be able to enroll if they are breastfeeding.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT03406429

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United States, Massachusetts
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02129
Sponsors and Collaborators
Massachusetts General Hospital
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Responsible Party: Mark C. Eldaief, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital Identifier: NCT03406429    
Other Study ID Numbers: 2017P002319
First Posted: January 23, 2018    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: January 18, 2020
Last Verified: January 2020
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: No

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: No
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: Yes
Product Manufactured in and Exported from the U.S.: No
Keywords provided by Mark C. Eldaief, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital:
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Aphasia, Primary Progressive
Pick Disease of the Brain
Frontotemporal Dementia
Primary Progressive Nonfluent Aphasia
Speech Disorders
Language Disorders
Communication Disorders
Neurobehavioral Manifestations
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Brain Diseases
Central Nervous System Diseases
Neurocognitive Disorders
Mental Disorders
Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration
TDP-43 Proteinopathies
Neurodegenerative Diseases
Proteostasis Deficiencies
Metabolic Diseases