The brains of people with frontotemporal dementia show a severe loss of brain cells (neurons). In some individuals protein known as ‘tau’ collects in neurons known as ‘Pick bodies’. More commonly, the brains of people with FTD shows an accumulation of another cell protein called ubiquitin. Very recent research has suggested that the accumulation of ubiquitin is attached to another protein called TDP-43, which has a fundamental role in the nuclei of brain cells.
In frontotemporal dementia, as the name suggests, these changes may be present in the frontal lobes, the temporal lobes or both. As the disease progresses these brain regions show shrinkage.
Almost a third of patients with FTD have a family history of dementia, if you include relatives with any sort of dementia coming on at any age. True familial FTD, however, is much rarer, accounting for about 10 -15% of cases. The genetic basis of FTD is not fully understood and is a topic of active research.
About our research
ForeFront, is an amalgamation of three Australian government funded research groups: the NHMRC Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) and Motor Neuron Disease (MND) program grant, the NHMRC Dominantly Inherited Non-Alzheimer Dementias team grant and the memory node of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and Its Disorders. This represents a unique bringing together of clinical and laboratory-based researchers dedicated to unravelling the mechanisms underlying FTD and MND and to developing effective therapies. Several investigator groups at NeuRA are involved in ForeFront (Halliday, Hodges, Piguet, Kwok, Ittner), in addition to research groups at Macquarie University and the Universities of Sydney, Queensland and Melbourne.
What we have discovered
Over the last two years, the ForeFront group has:
Assessing whether the main proteins differ in the toxicity and mechanisms of action:
Identifying the patients with different brain proteins:
Treatment development and clinical trials:
NeuRA’s Dr Moyra Mortby presented at Uniting War Memorial Hospital’s free seminar on Healthy Brains this week. Dr Mortby shared her research into the neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia. These are the challenging behaviours associated with dementia such as delusions, sleep disturbances, anxiety and agitation. “Neuropsychiatric symptoms are a diverse group of non-cognitive symptoms of dementia that are characterised by disturbed […]