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Delaying the onset of dementia symptoms
A large body of research has shown that there are some modifiable risk factors for adult-onset cognitive decline such as seen in dementia.
Researchers in the BMRI’s Healthy Brain Ageing Program, led by Associate Professor Sharon Naismith investigate and provide early intervention for dementia by targeting risk factors including high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, diet, brain inactivity and sleep disturbance. The approach will determine whether early intervention programs can delay the onset of cognitive decline and the underlying brain changes associated with the disease.
Enhancing cognitive training
Associate Professor Michael Valenzuela and his Regenerative Neuroscience Group in collaboration with Associate Professor Sharon Naismith and her team are investigating the effectiveness of dietary supplement Creatine in enhancing the effects of cognitive training in older people with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Creatine is often used by athletes to help improve performance by boosting energy supplies to cells.
Professor Matthew Kiernan who leads the ForeFront MND Program is investigating Frontotemporal Dementia And Motor Neurodegeneration Syndromes. The team’s work is focussed on clinical neurology, in particular disease pathophysiology and treatment strategies of neurological disorders.
The team are currently investigating the mechanisms and possible prevention of neurodegeneration in frontotemporal dementia, motor neurone disease, chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity, stroke, Machado-Joseph disease, spinal muscular atrophy and other inherited neuropathies.
Stem cell therapy for dementia
In the laboratory, Valenzuela and his team are investigating whether missing neurons and synapses can be replaced using a form of stem cell therapy.
The team have already shown in rats with memory dysfunction that transplanting canine stem cells restored memory to normal. The researchers also observed a net positive effect on synapse formation.
In collaboration with the Faculty of Veterinary Science and human neurosurgeon Dr Erica Jacobsen, the team will test whether the dementia-like syndrome Canine Cognitive Dysfunction can be reversed by injecting canine stem cells harvested from the same “patient” directly into the hippocampus using MRI guidance.
In the laboratory, researchers in our Imaging Physics Program are developing technologies enabling scientists to test new drugs and interventions for a wide variety of brain disorders, including dementia.
This study aims to evaluate whether changes in sleep-wake functions are associated with mood and cognitive decline in older people with depression and/or cognitive impairment. Find out more...
The Healthy Brain Ageing Cognitive Training program is a comprehensive clinical assessment and intervention program for people over the age of 50 who have noticed changes in their memory and other thinking functions. This study is now closed, however a new study is expected to begin in the coming months. Find out more...