News

ADnet Newsletter September 2021

From the Director, Prof Chris Rowe

Welcome to the September 2021 edition of our ADNeT Newsletter. Highlights in this issue include:

  • WHO Global status report on the public health response to dementia
  • ISLAND clinic provides first of a kind diagnostic service for Tasmanians
  • New Centre for Research Excellence on Vascular Dementia
  • Volunteers needed for major new international trial
  • Events and webinars
  • And much more.

I hope you enjoy our newsletter.

If you have any stories you would like us to cover, please email adnet-info@unimelb.edu.au We look forward to hearing from you.

I hope you take the time to read our newsletter.

Chris

NEWS:

WHO Global status report on the public health response to dementia

The recent Global status report on the public health response to dementia takes stock of progress made by Member States, WHO and civil society, and recommends that urgent increased efforts are needed globally to reach the dementia targets by 2025.

The report identifies the lack of dementia awareness, insufficient funding and a fragmented research landscape represent major barriers to effective research development and implementation. The report recommends an increased focus on collaborative research, informed by the experiences of people living with dementia to achieve innovative research results.

Fifty-five million people worldwide are living with dementia, and it is estimated that there will be about 78 million people with dementia worldwide in 2030 and about 139 million in 2050.

Read the report 

ISLAND clinic provides first of a kind diagnostic partnership for Tasmanians

The ISLAND clinic is a dedicated weekly diagnostic clinic in Hobart and established through involvement with ADNeT. The ISLAND clinic and I-MED Radiology have started working in collaboration to offer state of the art MRIs to dementia and cognition clinic patients in Tasmania.

ISLAND Clinic doctors and staff work with Dr Jak Ma, specialist neuroradiologist, from I-MED Radiology, in an invaluable service for Tasmanian residents. Dr Katharine Salmon is a Hobart based GP working as ADNeT’s clinical co-coordinator in the ISLAND clinic.

Dr Salmon said, “Tasmanians are very fortunate to have access to this excellent diagnostic and research clinic. It offers the benefit of direct access to the best diagnostic services Tasmania can offer, through one clinic, one location and often in one appointment. I-MED’s contribution to this multidisciplinary model is invaluable to the quality and timely service we are able to offer to Tasmanians.”

In addition to the ISLAND clinic’s partnership with I-MED Radiology, regular patient data is submitted to the ADNeT clinical registry and blood biomarkers are collected alongside a range of comprehensive research data from referred patients who consent to participate in research.

Dr Salmon added, “We are confident that our contribution to ADNeT will add to the knowledge of dementia and MCI in Australia and assist towards future planning and research.”

Back row, L-R – Kate Lawler, Kim Kennedy, Katharine Salmon, Alison Cleary, Jane Alty
Front row – L-R – Leigh Klein, Madeleine Beaumont, Scott McDonald

For more information visit:

https://islandclinic.utas.edu.au/

https://i-med.com.au/clinics/calvary-hospital

CHeBA funding success to transform ‘Preventable Dementia’ research

Scientia Professor Perminder Sachdev AM, ADNeT Deputy Director and Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW Medicine & Health, has been awarded $3 million to lead a team of experts from eight universities and three research institutes to improve our understanding of vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia.

The National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant will fund the establishment of the Vascular Contributions to Dementia Centre for Research Excellence, with a vision of reducing the overall health burden of vascular dementia. Research into vascular cognitive impairment and dementia has lagged behind that of Alzheimer’s disease research, and the development of this Centre seeks to remedy this.

“Cerebral vascular disease makes a contribution to 50 – 70% of all dementia cases, and in 15 – 20% of cases, it is the predominant cause. Our new Centre hopes to place vascular dementia research at the forefront of dementia research, alongside that of Alzheimer’s disease, and meet the promise of vascular dementia as a truly preventable dementia,” Professor Sachdev said.

Professor Sachdev’s team includes leading researchers in the fields of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease and dementia, neuropsychiatry, cognitive neurology, geriatrics, neuroimaging, genetics, proteomics, lipidomics, bioinformatics and statistics from UNSW Sydney, University of Melbourne, Florey Institute, University of Newcastle, Garvan Institute, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, University of Queensland and Macquarie University, all of whom have played a major role in the international effort to establish research priorities in this field.

The Florey Institute- Position open for Senior Research Fellow

An exciting opportunity for a Senior Research Fellow (SRF) has opened up at The Florey Institute. The SRF will play an integral part in providing scientific and clinical support to members of the Florey Australian Imaging and Biomarker Lifestyle study of Ageing AIBL/ADNeT Operations Group and the Austin Health Neuroscience PET. This role will be responsible for leading their own research projects/program, applying for, and successfully attaining research grants and fellowships.

Applications for this role close 6 October 2021.

Read the full position description and apply here

Updates:

Volunteers are key for new trial

ADNeT researchers have begun to approach volunteers who have registered on the ADNeT Research Volunteer portal for a new trial that has commenced that will assess the benefit of removing amyloid plaques from the brain using an antibody injection every month. Amyloid plaques are a critical part of Alzheimer’s disease and slowly accumulate for decades before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear. This major international trial hopes to show that removing the plaques will stop decline in memory function and delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The first volunteers have now been scanned for amyloid plaques in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth with Sydney and Newcastle starting soon. If plaques are found on the PET brain scan, participants will be encouraged to enter the treatment trial.

More volunteers are needed in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Newcastle. Interested persons should sign up on the ADNeT research volunteer portal.

Supporting local dementia research

ADNeT is committed to supporting local researchers and boosting dementia research in Australia.

ADNeT has now started receiving expressions of interest (EOIs) from researchers seeking to access data, samples or subjects to use in their dementia research. The first EOIs have been approved and subsequent relevant access granted to three different investigators.

If you are a researcher and would like to access ADNeT data or would like to collaborate on research projects, please complete the Expression of Interest Form.

Clinician’s insight on the ADNeT Registry

Dr Kannan Natarajan is a Consultant Geriatrician at the Cognitive Assessment & Management (CAM) Unit in The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH), Queensland, and their clinic recently joined the Australian Dementia Network (ADNeT) Registry. As the Clinical Lead for the TPCH Memory Clinic and site principal investigator for the Registry, Dr Natarajan shares his experiences of being involved with the ADNeT Registry and reflects on the opportunities he hopes it will bring in the future.

How did you find out about the ADNeT Registry and what motivated you to join the Registry?

My interest in the Swedish Dementia Registry inspired me to learn more about the ADNeT Registry. There are numerous registries for research but very few registries to assess clinical outcomes. In November 2017, I attended a meeting at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane where they discussed a national quality registry for dementia. After this, I was galvanised to address this gap and looked forward to being a part of a registry like ADNeT.

The benefits of the registry are that it is a quality improvement initiative, provides invaluable comparative information, establishes a benchmark for good clinical practice and guides adequate resource distribution.

How did you find the on-boarding process?

The process was excellent. The ADNeT Registry team provided comprehensive guidance on creating a local databank for the dementia network at TPCH and for the first time established the use of REDCap in our Metro North Hospital and Health Service.

We involved patient information systems, such as HBCIS (Hospital Based Corporate Information System) and Clinical Health Information Services team, who helped link patient demographics to the databank. The Internal Medicine and Dementia Research Unit (IMDRU) at our hospital has also been very supportive of the ADNeT Registry initiative.

The ADNeT team were very accessible which enabled us to progress through our project with ease. Ms Kerrie McAloney (ADNeT Registry Queensland State Coordinator) continues to support us after the on-boarding process and she is very responsive with any queries that my team might have with regard to the Registry.

What do you hope that the Registry can help you achieve?

I am hoping to get site specific data to see how our site performs and in comparison with other memory clinics. The broader benefits will be benchmarking our institution against the national standards. This will help us identify areas of needs and will guide appropriate resource allocation. With the changing profile of dementia management, I hope to explore better investigative tools and targeted treatment for people with dementia.

Further benefits of the Registry are that it can encourage patient engagement in research activities and empower clinicians to carefully consider the efficiency of their clinical practice.

What are your hopes for dementia diagnosis, treatment and care in the future? 

My hopes are that there will be improved investigative tools such as effective blood tests (Phospho-tau), structural and MBS subsidised functional imaging. It is also incredibly important to research curative treatments that are evidence based for neuro-cognitive disorders which will enable enhanced quality of life to our patients.

Catch-up viewing:

ADNeT Webinar – Sleep disturbances and dementia

A new webinar has been added to the ADNeT YouTube channel. In this webinar, ADNeT CI, Professor Sharon Naismith provides an overview of common types of sleep problems, how they relate to underlying markers of neurodegeneration, and the mechanisms by which sleep disturbance is likely to be detrimental to brain health.

Professor Simon Lewis discusses a well-described clinical feature that if better appreciated in the community could represent the strongest predictor for developing a neurodegenerative disease. Isolated Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour (iRBD) is associated with an 80-90% conversion to either Parkinson’s Disease (PD) or Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) over the proceeding 15 years.

 Watch now

Upcoming events and webinars:

CHeBA Virtual Running Festival

The Centre for Health Brain Ageing (CHeBA) is holding a virtual event encouraging people to get active while raising funds for CHeBA’s research into Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Join CHeBA in this year’s Blackmores Virtual Sydney Running Festival. Run or walk your chosen distance (42km marathon, 21km half marathon, 10km run or 3.5km family fun run) between 19 September and 17 October 2021.

Every dollar raised for CHeBA will support priority research projects to promote healthy brain ageing and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Sign up today

Centre for Healthy Brain Aging (CHeBA) | Visiting Lecture Series

Discussed in religions and philosophies for millennia, wisdom is a topic of growing empirical research since the 1970s. Studies have shown a strong inverse association between wisdom and loneliness. This suggests the relevance of wisdom in the current era of behavioural pandemics of loneliness and associated suicides and opioid-related deaths. This webinar will examine future neurobiological procedures which may be developed to enhance components of wisdom and how wisdom, through its association with well-being, happiness, and health is perhaps the best means of achieving successful ageing.

When:            Wednesday 29th September 2021, 9:00am
Where:          Virtual presentation
Who:              Professor Dilip Jeste | University of California San Diego

Register for the webinar

Alzheimer’s beyond COVID-19 – Dementia Trials Australia Annual Scientific Meeting

Dementia Trials Australia is holding a virtual Annual Scientific Meeting.

When:            Friday 8 October 2021
Where:           Virtual Zoom Meeting
Time:             10:00 am to 4pm AEST
Who: over 100 attendees comprising Principal Investigators, Sub Investigators and senior clinicians involved in Dementia Trials in Australia, including ADNeT’s Director, Prof. Chris Rowe.

Registration Fee: $185
Virtual Registrationhttps://www.trybooking.com/BRRTW

Read the full program

Memory Clinic Discussion Forum

ADNeT-Memory Clinics will soon be launching an online discussion forum for clinicians who are conducting specialised, comprehensive assessments of dementia and cognitive decline. This Forum will start as an email discussion group and can also be accessed through your web browser.

The Forum will be a good opportunity for professional exchange and peer support. If you wish to express your interest, please contact adnet.mc@unsw.edu.au and you will be the first to hear when the Discussion group goes live.

 

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