Hope for dementia thanks to new specialised centre in Melbourne

October 17 / 198

At the opening of the new Melbourne Dementia Research Centre: Inaugural Centre Director Professor Ashley Bush, Federal Health Minister The Hon Greg Hunt, Florey Director, Professor Geoffrey Donnan AO, and University of Melbourne's Dean of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Professor Shitij Kapur.
At the opening of the new Melbourne Dementia Research Centre: Inaugural Centre Director Professor Ashley Bush, Federal Health Minister The Hon Greg Hunt, Florey Director, Professor Geoffrey Donnan AO, and University of Melbourne's Dean of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Professor Shitij Kapur.

The new Melbourne Dementia Research Centre is set to fast-track diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, bringing together Australia’s best scientists as they edge closer to a cure.

The Centre, the largest of its kind in Australia, is a collaboration between the Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health and the University of Melbourne, with funding of more than $22 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and $4 million in support from other funders. It will be home to close to 200 staff working on improved diagnostics, treatments, and ultimately a cure for dementia.

The Centre was launched by Health Minister Greg Hunt, who toured the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Photography (PET) facilities that are crucial to the first clinical trial to be run at the Centre. This 3D Trial (Delaying Dementia with Deferiprone) will hopefully lead to an affordable and efficient way of diagnosing people at risk of dementia, which in turn will allow for early intervention and prevention of the disease’s progression.

Professor Ashley Bush, who made a world-first discovery into a link between iron in the brain and dementia progression, has been appointed Director of the Centre.

“The Centre will focus on integrating basic and translational research into dementia, with a special focus on clinical trials and clinical longitudinal studies,” Professor Bush said.

“Over the next three years we aim to offer a new drug therapy for people with Alzheimer’s disease as part of the 3D Trial. We will develop a way to offer an early diagnosis using imaging so we can intervene with novel drug therapies; and we will constantly be trying to develop new dementia medications.

“The importance of finding a cure for dementia is growing every day with more than 400,000 Australians currently living with the disease, and another 100,000 more expected to be diagnosed within less than a decade. Helping those people and their families, who inevitably become carers, is vitally important.”

Professor Shitij Kapur, Dean of the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Health), said the Centre was a fantastic example of collaboration between the University and the Florey, the third most cited neuroscience institute in the world.

“The Melbourne Dementia Resource Centre realistically aims to be the world’s leading centre for research translation on dementia,” Professor Kapur said. “We already have groups loosely collaborating on the ageing brain across the University, the Florey and at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Austin Health, but this union will optimise discovery.” 

 

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