Several projects looking into the causes and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease have received a significant financial boost courtesy of Dementia Australia’s Dementia Grants Program.
: Several projects looking into the causes and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease have received a significant financial boost courtesy of Dementia Australia’s Dementia Grants Program.
In 2023, more than 400,000 Australians are living with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, this number is expected to double by 2058.
Dr Christa Dang, from the National Ageing Research Institute, is one of those working towards ensuring people with dementia and their carers have access to the best possible support and can live as well as possible.
Dr Dang was one of several researchers who were awarded a grant in the latest funding round, being recognised for her project which aims to examine the relationships between patterns of repetitive negative thinking and blood-based biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease, neurodegeneration, inflammation and stress.
Dr Dang said repetitive negative thinking (RNT) is an ongoing and continuous pattern of thinking negatively about a lot of possible things including yourself, the world and people around you, the past, the future or the present.
Studies have found relationships between more RNT and greater rates of depression and/or anxiety, chronic stress responses, inflammation in the entire bodily system and brain, increased signs of toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease and worsening cognitive ability.
“Because RNT affects things like stress and inflammation, which we know are harmful to the body and brain, it might be possible that we can reduce chances of someone developing Alzheimer’s disease in their future if we can find a way to help them reduce how much RNT they do,” she said.
“The MiND Your Thinking project is a pilot study that will include people from the existing Markers in Neuropsychiatric Disorders (MiND) Study. The aim is to test whether there are connections between more RNT and cognitive decline and signs of Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation, stress responses, or neurodegeneration using markers measured in blood samples.”
Dr Dang will then test whether RNT or any of the biomarkers can predict a diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disorder.
The grants program also recognised the attempts by researchers to test a new drug treatment that may help the brain remove toxins associated with the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.
New new new
The $375,000 Faye Williams Innovation Grant was awarded to a team led by Professor Michael Parker from St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research to test the new drug treatment.
Professor Parker said the grant would enable his team to move to the next stage of testing the new drug.
“If we can successfully enhance the brain’s ability to clear these toxins, we delay, and even potentially reverse, some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease,” Professor Parker said.
“The brain naturally has cells that act as garbage collectors by removing the toxins that are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.”
“We have some very promising preliminary results that indicate that the new drug we have developed can enhance this process without the negative consequences that have plagued drug trials.”
The 2023 Dementia Grants Program is now underway with outcomes announced in January 2024 for funding commencing January-March 2024 or by arrangement.
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