World-Class Australian Research Leads Global Dementia Fight

A progress report on the Ausralian Government’s $200 million Boosting Dementia Research Initiative has revealed a series of potentially world-leading Australian projects now underway to combat dementia.

Page last updated: 07 June 2018

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7 June 2018

A progress report on the Turnbull Government’s $200 million Boosting Dementia Research Initiative has revealed a series of potentially world-leading Australian projects now underway to combat dementia.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt AM said that, three years into the five-year initiative, its support of 127 projects involving 285 researchers, working across 24 universities and research institutions, promised major milestones towards dementia prevention, management and cures.

“Australia is now a world leader in many aspects of dementia research,” said Minister Wyatt.

“Dementia is the second most common cause of death in this country and for women it has eclipsed heart disease, to become the leading cause.

“Already, it is estimated 425,000 Australians are living with the condition, with around 1,700 people believed to be developing dementia each week.

“It is critical we find effective preventions and cures, otherwise we can expect 1.1 million Australians to have dementia by the middle of this century, meaning more than 600 people a day will be at risk of developing the disease.”

The Boosting Dementia Research Initiative report highlights:

    • The promise of ultrasound technology to improve memory and slow the onset of dementia, by helping clear the toxic amyloid protein from the brain
    • Research targeting whether increased brain iron levels are the ‘missing link’ in the development of dementia
    • The impact of childhood stress as a dementia risk factor, especially among Aboriginal Australians
    • The potential for eye scans to reveal three biomarkers associated with early signs of cognitive decline
    • Improved diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia, one of the most common forms of the disease
    • Harnessing the power of music to assist people in managing and living with dementia
    • Specialised staff training including massage, music and reminiscence therapies, to improve dementia care
Addressing Australia’s International Dementia Conference 2018 in Sydney, Minister Wyatt also announced a new $5.3 million pilot program aimed at improving aged care for people living with dementia, through an emphasis on applying innovation.

“Dementia particularly affects people as they age, with three in 10 people over the age of 85 and almost one in 10 people over 65 having the condition,” the Minister said.

“This investment will foster further development of technological solutions to help people living with dementia, as well as their families and carers.

“Dementia-focused care technology is in its infancy and there is much untapped potential for it to be developed to help people with the condition to live at home for longer.”

The latest $5.3 million investment through the 2018—19 Budget builds on the success of the Boosting Dementia Research Initiative and the more than $50 million per annum provided for a number of dementia-specific programs that are making a positive difference to people’s lives.

The Boosting Dementia Research Initiative report is available on the NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research website.

Media contact: Nick Way, Media Adviser 0419 835 449

Authorised by Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Member for Hasluck.

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