Digitally created image of brain in skull

ForeFront

RESEARCH CENTRE

Forefront operates two research clinics with the aim of better understanding frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and motor neurone (MND) syndromes. These clinics allow translation of our research into clinical practice.
1. Our Clinics

FRONTIER is the only dedicated FTD clinic in Australia. It was established by Prof John Hodges in 2007 and receives 80-100 new patients annually for comprehensive research evaluation. Each patient is followed at 6-12 month intervals using clinic or home visits and/or questionnaires. Serial blood samples are collected for the establishment of cell lines, and DNA and serum extraction.

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2. Cognition and neuroimaging

Assoc Prof Olivier Piquet has 10 years experience in clinical research combined with 20 years experience as a clinical neuropsychologist. Dr Michael Hornberger is an expert in imaging and interested in identifying the neural correlates of behavioural and cognitive symptoms in patients. They combine cognitive, imaging and neuropathological methods in their research.

A 3-Tesla Philips scanner is available at NeuRA to undertake a full range of grey and white matter tract imaging.

We aim to find out which functions of the brain and brain areas are first affected by FTD and MND, and improve clinical diagnostic procedures.

How to get involved?

3. Biospecimens

In order to develop effective interventions for people with FTD, tests to identify the type of cellular changes occurring in the brain need to be developed, especially for those with the initial symptoms of FTD and MND where treatments would be of the greatest benefit. We aim to achieve this by using biospecimens from DNA, blood and brain donations.

Ultimately our goal is to find a cure for these devastating conditions. Our current research goal is to develop an easily identifiable biological marker (a biomarker) that indicates the type of cellular changes occurring in the brain of each patient with FTD. In order to do this, we will be screening blood from people with FTD and MND for a broad array of cellular markers such as proteins that accumulate in the brain, and other molecules associated with cell degeneration. To develop these biomarkers, it is essential to use brain tissue.

How can I donate my brain?

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FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

'I've got the best job for you dad. Your shaky arm will be perfect for it!'

Children… honest and insightful. Their innocence warms the heart. But what words do you use to explain to a child that daddy has an incurable brain disease? What words tell them that in time he may not be able to play football in the park, let alone feed himself? What words help them understand that in the later stages, dementia may also strike? Aged just 36, this was the reality that faced Steve Hartley. Parkinson's disease didn't care he was a fit, healthy, a young dad and devoted husband. It also didn't seem to care his family had no history of it. The key to defeating Parkinson's disease is early intervention, and thanks to a global research team, led by NeuRA, we're pleased to announce that early intervention may be possible. Your support, alongside national and international foundations Shake it Up Australia and the Michael J Fox Foundation, researchers have discovered that a special protein, found in people with a family history of the disease increases prior to Parkinson’s symptoms developing. This is an incredible step forward, because it means that drug therapies, aimed at blocking the increase in the protein, can be administered much earlier – even before symptoms strike. The next step is to understand when to give the drug therapies and which people will most benefit from it. But we need your help. A gift today will support vital research and in time help medical professionals around the world treat Parkinson’s disease sooner, with much better health outcomes. Thank you, in advance, for your support.  
APPEAL

Caress the Detail: A Comprehensive MRI Atlas of the in Vivo Human Brain

This project aims to deliver the most comprehensive, detailed and stereotaxically accurate MRI atlas of the canonical human brain. In human neuroscience, researchers and clinicians almost always investigate images obtained from living individuals. Yet, there is no satisfactory MRI atlas of the human brain in vivo or post-mortem. There are some population-based atlases, which valiantly solve a number of problems, but they fail to address major needs. Most problematically, they segment only a small number of brain structures, typically about 50, and they are of limited value for the interpretation of a single subject/patient. In contrast to population-based approaches, the present project will investigate normal, living subjects in detail. We aim to define approximately 800 structures, as in the histological atlas of Mai, Majtanik and Paxinos (2016), and, thus, provide a “gold standard” for science and clinical practice. We will do this by obtaining high-resolution MRI at 3T and 7T of twelve subjects through a collaboration with Markus Barth from the Centre for Advanced Imaging at the University of Queensland (UQ). The limited number of subjects will allow us to image each for longer periods, obtaining higher resolution and contrast, and to invest the required time to produce unprecedented detail in segmentation. We will produce an electronic atlas for interpreting MR images, both as a tablet application and as an online web service. The tablet application will provide a convenient and powerful exegesis of brain anatomy for researchers and clinicians. The open access web service will additionally provide images, segmentation and anatomical templates to be used with most common MR-analysis packages (e.g., SPM, FSL, MINC, BrainVoyager). This will be hosted in collaboration with UQ, supporting and complementing their population-based atlas.
PROJECT