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Intouch : In Touch Winter 2013
12 IN TOUCH WINTER 2013 RESEARCH RECENT STUDIES AUSTRALIAN RESEARCHERS HAVE IDENTIFIED EARLY BIOLOGICAL MARKERS OF ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, BRINGING US A BIG STEP CLOSER TO SCREENING TESTS FOR EARLY DETECTION. CLOSER TO A BLOOD TEST Australian scientists have identifed blood-based biological markers that can appear years before Alzheimer's disease symptoms are evident and associated irreversible brain damage has occurred. The biological markers are associated with a the build-up of beta amyloid proteins, and their identifcation brings researchers a step closer to developing screening tests for early detection. Amyloid beta levels become abnormal as early as 17 years prior to the appearance of dementia symptoms, Dr Noel Faux, from the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health explained. "This gives us a much longer time to intervene to try to slow disease progression. " The results have been published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. Read more: goo.gl/EV7nX THE OTHER SIDE: 'PLAQUE COMES LATER' Another Australian study has shown that the build-up in the brain of amyloid plaques may occur later in the progression of Alzheimer's disease. PhD student Amanda Wright and Dr Bryce Vissel from Sydney's Garvan Institute aimed to identify early versus late Alzheimer's disease mechanisms and markers. They found that signifcant loss of brain cells and a range of associated disease processes (including infammation) began at an early stage of the disease, at around the same time as the frst signs of subtle memory problems. Amyloid plaques occurred much later, after signifcant memory loss had occurred. "Our study supports the increasingly common view that treatment should start much earlier in the disease process, " said Dr Vissel. The fndings also suggest that brain infammation, cell loss, mild memory loss and behavioural changes may be early indicators of disease. " Read more: goo.gl/s58NH GENETIC RISK MARKERS New genetic markers that could help highlight who is at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease have been identifed by US scientists. A team of researchers led by Dr Alison Goate performed the largest ever genome- wide association study of protein markers found in cerebrospinal fuid. Researchers found that one of the genetic markers had a strong association with increased Alzheimer's disease risk. Read more: goo.gl/vN1Yo RESEARCH OVERHAUL NEEDED The Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research -- Better Health through Research, led by 2011 Australian of the Year Simon McKeon, has been released by the Australian Government. The report features a 10-year strategic plan to maximise Australia's capacity to produce world-class health and medical research. The plan sets out recommendations that will build research capacity in health priority areas such as dementia and support an increased focus on priority- driven research by establishing set research agendas, evaluating outcomes and leveraging funding. The report also recommends the establishment of a leadership body to work with key organisations to better deliver healthcare services. The recommendations are part of a three- tier vision that calls for strengthened partnerships between researchers, health professionals and the wider community. Read more: www.mckeonreview.org.au ENABLING ENVIRONMENTS Alzheimer's Australia WA and the NSW Dementia Training Study Centre at the University of Wollongong have developed a national project focusing on translating research into practice to create enabling environments for people with dementia. The Dementia Enabling Environments Project (DEEP) uses evidence-based principles that will provide design professionals, carers and aged-care staff with practical information and advice on creating 'dementia-friendly' environments. W: www.enablingenvironments.com.au
In Touch Autumn 2013
In Touch Summer 2013