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NHMRC

New dementia research funding to unlock secrets of the brain

Summary media release information

Date: 
12 June 2013
Type: 
Media Release
Contact for further information: 
NHMRC Media Team: 0422 008 512

Medical research into the impact of low Vitamin B12 levels is among six new dementia research grants announced today by Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek and Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler. 

Vitamin B12, commonly found in seafood like oysters, has a key role in normal brain functioning and University of Wollongong Professor Brett Garner will receive $429,011 to investigate how a lack of Vitamin B12 contributes to age-related memory loss, reasoning and decision making.

In Victoria, two grants have been allocated to the University of Melbourne. Professor Roberto Cappai will receive $551,222 to determine the specific type of protein that may be toxic to brain cells and Professor David Scott will receive $670,949 to determine the impact of anaesthesia and surgery in patients with mild age-related memory loss, reasoning and decision making.

Dr Brett Collins and colleagues from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) and Queensland Brain Institute will receive $456,787 to investigate potential new drug targets for Alzheimer‟s treatment.

In WA, Edith Cowan University's Dr Giuseppe Verdile will receive $536,949 to investigate proteins that cause early onset Alzheimer's Disease, one of the most common forms of dementia.

And University of Tasmania Professor David Small will receive $390,758 to investigate the way new drugs can block the build up of toxicity in the brain protein that causes Alzheimer's disease.

Ms Plibersek said the Gillard Labor Government is committed to improving the health and quality of life of our older Australians and this research aims to make dementia a far less debilitating condition than what it is today.

“Dementia is likely to affect 900,000 Australians by 2050 and I'm proud that Australia is acting now in whole range of areas like research, awareness and better services,” Ms Plibersek said.

Mr Butler said dementia had achieved national prominence this decade and it was important that we continued to support Australian research.

“We’ve made dementia a national priority area this year and that's supported with research funding, including these grants through the National Health and Medical Research Council,” Mr Butler said.

“Earlier this year, the Government also established a new $25 million NHMRC Partnership Centre on Cognitive Decline.

“This work complements the Gillard Labor Government's "Living Longer Living Better‟ aged care reform package that is providing $3.7 billion over five years from 2012, including more support for people with dementia.”

Media contacts: 

Minister’s Plibersek‘s Office: 02 6277 7220
Minister’s Butler‘s Office: 02 6277 7280
NHMRC Media Team: 0422 008 512 

NHMRC Projects Grants - Funding Recipients

Victoria

Title:
The amyloid beta toxic species

Research Institution:
University of Melbourne

Chief Investigator A:
Professor Roberto Cappai

Funding amount:
$551,222

Amyloid beta protein plaques are formed in Alzheimer’s Disease. This research seeks to uncover the type of amyloid protein that may be toxic to nerve cells. Isolation of this protein may allow it to be used as a marker of Alzheimer’s Disease.
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Title:
Healthcare interventions and Alzheimer's Disease (AHEAD)

Research Institution:
University of Melbourne

Chief Investigator A:
Professor David Scott

Funding amount:
$670,949

The AHEAD Study will assess the impact of anaesthesia and surgery on cognitive function in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer's Disease. Such effects have not been established. With an ageing population being increasingly exposed to healthcare procedures requiring anaesthesia or sedation, any negative impact needs to be identified so that therapeutic decisions may be informed and future research appropriately targeted.
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New South Wales

Title:
A novel intracellular roadblock to cobalamin utilization in ageing and Alzheimer’s Disease

Research Institution:
University of Wollongong

Chief Investigator A:
Professor Brett Garner

Funding amount:
$429,011

Vitamin B12 is required for red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis and normal neurological function. B12 deficiency contributes to age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease.  This research will provide important new information regarding the ageing process and the impact that brain changes associated with ageing and Alzheimer's Disease have on B12 metabolism. It will provide important information related to the therapeutic potential of B12.
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Tasmania

Title:
Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, calcium and Alzheimer's Disease

Research Institution:
University of Tasmania

Chief Investigator A:
Professor David Small

Funding amount:
$390,758

This research aims to uncover the molecular mechanisms that cause Alzheimer's Disease. Specifically, the research will examine the mechanism by which Abeta, a protein which plays a central role in the disease, causes neurodegeneration. This research may help to identify new targets for drug development.
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Western Australia

Title:
The role of a presenilin 2 truncation (PS2V) in Alzheimer's Disease

Research Institution:
Edith Cowan University

Chief Investigator A:
Dr Giuseppe Verdile

Funding amount:
$536,949

The presenilin and amyloid precursor protein (APP) proteins are centrally important in inherited, early onset Alzheimer's Disease. The research team has discovered that a shortened form of Presenilin protein, "PS2V", appears to increase specifically the rate at which the APP protein is cleaved to produce the "Amyloid beta" protein fragment that is found in Alzheimer's Disease brains. This occurs when brain cells are under oxidative stress. Understanding this process will facilitate development of appropriate therapeutic strategies for the disease.
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Queensland

Title:
Membrane trafficking in Alzheimer's Disease

Research Institution:
University of Queensland

Chief Investigator A:
Dr Brett Collins

Funding amount:
$456,787

The toxic amyloid peptide is central to disease pathology and is derived from breakdown of the Alzheimer’s amyloid precursor protein (APP). In this project, the research team will examine the interactions between APP and the molecular machinery that controls its location in the cell and subsequent degradation