$185m brings hope of dementia cure
DEMENTIA patients have been given new hope of having their heartbreaking disease reversed and memory restored under a $185 million Federal Government ageing fighting fund.
Queensland researchers - who have cured dementia in mice - will begin clinical trials in Brisbane next year on up to 10 patients with early-onset dementia, who can consent to the intervention.
Health Minister Greg Hunt will unveil the Ageing, Aged Care and Dementia Mission, which will fund $10 million trials at the Queensland Brain Institute.
The breathtaking research has found it can blast away the "toxic plaque" the builds in the brains of dementia mice by using non-invasive "micro bubbles" and an ultrasound.
The memories of the mice also returned.
Clem Jones Centre For Ageing Dementia Research foundation chairman Jürgen Götz is hoping to produce a portable scanning ultrasound device, which could be used around the country.
As Australia's ageing population increases, more are expected to be diagnosed with the slow and degrading disease. Dementia takes a massive toll on families and the bottom line.
Professor Götz told The Courier-Mail there were more than 350,000 Australians with dementia in Australia currently.
"Worldwide, it's in the order of 35 million," he said.
"Because of our ageing population, these numbers will increase dramatically, reaching one million by 2050 in Australia alone.
"Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer's or any other of the more than two dozen forms of dementia. Finding a treatment is thus absolutely critical."
He said his team had found ultrasound removed toxic plaques from the brains of mice with Alzheimer's and restores memory functions fully.
"Our ultimate long-term goal is to achieve a clearing of plaque and restoring of memory in humans with dementia also," Professor Götz said.
"To achieve this, we are pursuing three complementary strategies: developing ultrasound into a mature technology, developing antibodies, and making fundamental discoveries about the brain that could allow us to treat dementia before symptoms occur.
"The next step is a safety trial beginning in late 2019 in a small number of up to 10 patients focusing on a small brain area to determine whether the method is safe, and to guide and inform us in further technological developments."
Mr Hunt said the new $185 million medical research package focused on ageing, aged care and dementia, was funded through the Medical Research Future Fund.
"This funding will be used to develop this discovery into a promising treatment technology, with clinical trials in 2019,'' Mr Hunt told The Courier-Mail yesterday.
"The goal is to produce a portable scanning ultrasound device, capable of being used across the country, including in regional clinic settings.
"The need for investment in research to develop new treatments and to improve dementia care is evident."