ECU researchers Associate Professor Simon Laws and Dr Stephanie Rainey-Smith are part of a collaborative team that has won a $488,725 NHMRC grant to pinpoint why Alzheimer’s disease strikes people at different ages and at different rates of progression.
The findings, using large amounts of data from around the world and the latest techniques in precision medicine, will be used to produce a forecasting tool that will help in the fight against prevention.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is Australia’s second leading cause of death. Globally dementia affects about 47 million people, and costs hundreds of billions of dollars in health care each year.
Associate Professor Simon Laws said precision medicine was key to the new study.
“We can now decipher the variability in Alzheimer’s disease onset, mechanism and clinical expression, to identify people who would benefit from preventative strategies and treatments,” he said.
“This effectively heralds a new era of precision medicine to change the trajectory of this debilitating disease.”
Precision medicine has been enabled by recent advances in genomics, data analysis and availability, as well as artificial intelligence.
This NHMRC grant is one of 10 delivered to ground-breaking medical research projects aimed at improving outcomes in mental health, dementia, aged care, cerebral palsy, diabetes and other life-changing conditions.
The 10 grants funded will support Australian partnerships with leading research teams in Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Associate Professor Simon Laws and Dr Stephanie Rainey-Smith will work with CSIRO bioinformatician Dr Samantha Burnham and world leader in neuroimaging and dementia research Associate Professor Victor Villemagne (University of Melbourne).