NeuRA Magazine #21

NEURA PARTICIPATES IN GLOBAL RESEARCH INTO ALZHEIMER’S PREVENTION

In conversation with Dr Bill Brooks
Tell us about your work with families with the genetic form for Alzheimer’s disease
I have been working with these families for over 25 years and we are involved here at NeuRA with a global research study called DIAN (Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network). This study set out to look for biological changes that occur in people before they develop the Alzheimer’s symptoms such as memory loss. Over the last two years, we have been working on a clinical trial aimed at preventing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, by removing amyloid from the brain, before symptoms develop and before the nerve cells deteriorate. It has been a lot of work for us – and it’s an even more demanding task for the clinical trial participants, but it is all going well so far.

 

What is the next big step in the DIAN program?
By the end of this year everyone in the study worldwide will have been on the double-blind phase of the trial for two years, so at the end of this year, we will start looking at the data to examine the evidence and results which will frame the next phase of this ground-breaking research program.

 

What does the next phase of the research look like?
The next phase of the DIAN trial, as far as the first two drugs are concerned, is that they will be reviewed to see whether they have a significant influence on reducing amyloid deposition in the brain. If so, the trial participants will go on for another two years, to see if we the trial can demonstrate an effect on people’s memory and thinking. We also have plans to start a third drug arm this year. This process will roll on until a breakthrough is discovered which prevents the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

 

How do you feel being at the pointy end of science?
When I was a medical student there was no treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s. It was not even on the horizon. It was thought probably to be one of those things, which were just not treatable. Over the last couple of decades, we have seen gradual but major increases in our knowledge, and we are now in a position where we hope we can make the same inroads into Alzheimer’s as we have into cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Here at NeuRA, we are really proud to be part of this international effort to find a preventative drug treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. For me it’s a culmination of many decades of work. To be stepping closer to discovery is what drives us all to keep pushing into the next phase of the DIAN research program.

 

We need your help to keep clinical trial running in Australia to make sure that the next phase of the trial is completed. You can donate at neura.edu.au/donate/

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FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

The cold case of schizophrenia - broken wide open!

‘It is like they were miraculously healed!’’ Schizophrenia is diagnosed by clinical observation of behaviour and speech. This is why NeuRA researchers are working hard to understand the biological basis of the illness. Through hours of work and in collaboration with doctors and scientists here and around the world, NeuRA has made an amazing breakthrough. For the first time, researchers have discovered the presence of antibodies in the brains of people who lived with schizophrenia. Having found these antibodies, it has led NeuRA researchers to ask two questions. What are they doing there? What should we do about the antibodies– help or remove them? This is a key breakthrough. Imagine if we are treating schizophrenia all wrong! It is early days, but can you imagine the treatment implications if we’ve identified a new biological basis for the disease? It could completely change the way schizophrenia is managed, creating new treatments that will protect the brain. More than this, could we be on the verge of discovering a ‘curable’ form of schizophrenia? How you can help We are so grateful for your loyal support of schizophrenia research in Australia, and today I ask if you will consider a gift today. Or, to provide greater confidence, consider becoming a Discovery Partner by making a monthly commitment. We believe there is great potential to explore these findings. Will you help move today’s breakthrough into tomorrow’s cure? To read more about this breakthrough, click ‘read the full story’ below. You are also invited to read ‘Beth’s story’, whose sweet son Marcus lived with schizophrenia, by clicking here.
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