Announced last month, the mission is funded through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and will focus on;
Dementia (diagnosis, treatment and prevention)
Fall prevention and avoidable hospitalisations
Assistive technology to support independence
The first to receive funding is The Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research at the Queensland Brain Institute, where a team has found that ultrasound can remove Alzheimer’s disease (the most common type of dementia) pathology and restore memory function in animal models.
They will receive $10 million to develop this discovery into a promising treatment technology, with clinical trials in late 2019. The goal is to produce a portable scanning ultrasound device, capable of being used across the country, including in regional clinic settings.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the funding means more patients will have more treatment and a better chance in beating dementia, and described it as “arguably the most significant opportunity for breakthrough for dementia and alzheimer's treatment in Australia”.
“Without a medical breakthrough, the number of Australians living with dementia is expected to increase to almost 1.1 million by 2056,” Minister Hunt says.
“The need for investment in research to develop new treatments and to improve dementia care is evident.
“We’re committed to ensuring Australians of all ages have access to the support they need to face life’s challenges.”
The National Ageing Research Institute Deputy Director Debra O’Connor says the announcement fills a much-needed gap in Australia’s medical research program.
“As the proportion of older people in Australia continues to increase and people are living longer, Australia needs to target translational research in ageing,” she says.
“We believe that this new funding will do much to transform existing models of care, tailor preventive approaches, and reshape health and aged care systems to best meet the changing population profile as an urgent priority.”
There are an estimated 420,000 people living with dementia in Australia. There is currently no cure and existing medications only treat symptoms, without halting or reversing the underlying neurodegeneration.