Western Australia Minister for Science and Innovation Bill Marmion
New Study To Tackle Early Detection Of Alzheimer’s
Victor P Taffa
The State Government has provided more than $2 Million towards research into the early detection of one of the world’s fastest-growing major diseases, Alzheimer’s disease.
Science and Innovation Minister Bill Marmion said the funding would help researchers at the McCusker Foundation, identify specific markers in the brain that could potentially lead to the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease currently affect more than 245,000 Australians or one in three people aged 85 and over.” Mr. Marmion said.
“This study aims to develop an early diagnostic test that could potentially lead to the accelerated discovery of effective treatments against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”
“Early diagnosis will enable people at risk of developing the disease to make informed decisions to modify their lifestyle and improve their situation, while better treatments and medications are being developed.”
McCusker Foundation’s Director of Research and 2010 WA Australian of the Year Professor Ralph Martins said the funding would allow the foundation to test 1,600 patients with a predisposition to developing the crippling disease.
“This funding will enable the testing of a big cross section of patients to further understand Alzheimer’s disease.” Professor Martins said.
“Once patients are injected with a special tracer agent, their brain will be imaged using a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan to identify brain activity in certain brain regions.”
“This enables my clinicians and researchers to compare the results against other more conventional scans of the patient’s brain to try and determine if Alzheimer’s disease is present.” Professor Martins said.
“The early detection of Alzheimer’s means medications which may help delay the progression of the disease can be started earlier – when they have the greatest effect.”
The Minister said the McCusker Foundation’s research would further build its reputation as a leader in the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and lift WA’s global research profile to an even higher degree.
The State Government’s funding will also enable the McCusker Foundation to purchase a High Performance Mass Spectrometer to undertake research for the development of a diagnostic blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.