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Curtin project awarded funding to test new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease

Media release

A Curtin University-led research project has been awarded $1.72 million in Federal Government funding to trial a new treatment for patients with the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Minister for Health, the Honourable Greg Hunt, today announced the Curtin research project received funding in the latest round of Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Rare Cancer, Rare Disease and Unmet Need (RCRDUN) – Neurological Disorders grants.

The research team, led by Professor John Mamo, Director of the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI), has identified a novel drug that prevents the production and leakage of a small molecule from the small intestine and liver that makes tiny blood vessels in the brain ‘leak’ and become inflamed, which has been known to trigger late onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran congratulated Professor Mamo and his team on their important research, which will help to prevent a global health issue that affects people around the world.

“In Australia, dementia is the leading cause of death in women and the second leading cause for the overall population. Finding appropriate treatment options for this disease is a global health priority,” Professor Moran said.

“The research team were able to show that the drug probucol could supress the production and leakage of this small molecule in pre-clinical models. This significant development has allowed the team to now conduct trials in humans with the disease.”

Professor Mamo said the team was delighted to receive additional funding for its work which has significant implications for people living with Alzheimer’s disease. An initial $150K contribution was made from MSWA, long standing supporters of Curtin University’s neurological research, which helped get this project off the ground.

“The functioning and integrity of brain capillaries, which supply approximately 20 per cent of the body’s oxygen and other nutrients to the brain, play a key role in the onset of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,” Professor Mamo said.

“Our research will look at what regulates, damages or protects brain capillaries and if we can stop this leakage through drug treatment. In this project, we hope to show results of improved cognitive performance and brain function in patients with late onset Alzheimer’s disease.”

The research team, which includes Associate Professor Ryu Takechi and John Curtin Distinguished Professor Christopher Reid from Curtin’s School of Public Health, brings together a wide range of expertise including gerontologists, physicians, physiologists, biochemists, immunologists, psychobiologists and clinical radiologists.