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NeuRA Magazine #30

OUR PURSUIT TO PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S

For the past 11 years, NeuRA has played a key role in the groundbreaking international research program, DIAN (Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network). The program has researchers, clinicians and families from over 26 countries working together to study how Alzheimer’s develops and learn how it can be treated.

They are doing this by studying a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease called Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease (DIAD). Sadly, there is a 50 per cent chance that the children of someone with DIAD will develop the same disease. But the high prevalence of Alzheimer’s among this group means researchers can begin treatment early to see whether their intervention methods are stopping the disease among trial participants. NeuRA is part of a clinical trial program called DIAN-TU, which is looking at whether certain drugs can prevent the deposition of amyloid in the brain. A significant amount of amyloid is typically found in people who develop Alzheimer’s.

“I’ve been working with a small but committed group of Australian families in this trial for many years and have got to know some of them very well,” said NeuRA’s investigator Dr Bill Brooks.

“These people are going to extraordinary lengths to participate in our trials, and I am very thankful for their commitment. Through their assistance, we hope to discover how to prevent Alzheimer’s in Australia and internationally.”

DIAD is unique because it is the only situation where Alzheimer’s disease has a single known cause, which in this case is a harmful gene. People in these families who inherit the disease-causing gene usually develop symptoms when aged between their thirties and fifties, which is about 35 years earlier than the typical onset age of Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s tragic that so many people with DIAD may not live past the age of 60. But these people also give us hope because they may hold the key to discovering how we can prevent Alzheimer’s from occurring. My aspiration is that everyone suffering from or touched by Alzheimer’s will one day receive better treatment that reduces the growth and impact of this disease,” Dr Brooks said.

Researchers anticipate the results from the global DIAN-TU study will be available next year.

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