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.

LEAD!- Leveraging Evidence into Action on Dementia

Currently, there is no effective treatment for dementia, highlighting the urgent need to preventing more cases through evidence-based strategies for risk reduction. As there is an overlap between the risk factors for dementia and other preventable non-communicable diseases including stroke, diabetes, and heart disease, it is important to build upon proven risk-reduction strategies. What is LEAD? LEAD! is a project funded by the NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Grant led by Professor Kaarin Anstey. It involves an international collaboration between leading academics, clinicians, consumers, and community members. Organisations involved include the Department of Health, WHO, Dementia Australia, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Diabetes Australia, and Heart Foundation. The project aims to translate dementia research and implement evidence-based strategies for dementia risk reduction to individuals, communities, and healthcare centres. Three workstreams The project has three concurrent workstreams over five years: Development, Implementation, and Evaluation and adoption. The Development stream, led by Professor Kaarin Anstey and Associate Professor Peters, focuses on building a new tool for predicting dementia and other non-communicable diseases including stroke, diabetes or myocardial infarction. The tool will be available to the public, researchers and clinicians. It will save clinical assessment time, accurately predict multiple outcomes and will be more acceptable in comparison to using individual tools for each disease outcome. The Implementation stream led by Professor Nicola Lautenschalger’s team at the University of Melbourne, will develop strategies to support the implementation of dementia risk reduction evidence by engaging with consumers, clinicians, policy makers, and the public. The stream will develop strategies for incorporating the new risk assessment tool into various technological platforms (e.g., websites or apps). The Evaluation and adoption stream, led by Professor Anstey and in collaboration with Professor Louisa Jorm and Dr Heidi Welberry at UNSW, focuses on measuring trajectories of Australian’s national risk factor profiles for multiple chronic diseases. Collaboration with key stakeholders including the WHO will help build an evaluation framework and methodology for implementing evidence on dementia risk reduction based on WHO guidelines at national level and in the global context.
PROJECT