The Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research (CJCADR) was officially opened by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman at 10am today.
Housed within the Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland, the centre will address ageing dementia.
The disorder affects more than 321,600 Australians and is the nation’s third leading cause of death, after heart disease and stroke. There is no cure.
Mr Newman said dementia research was vitally important and congratulated those involved with the establishment of the new centre.
“Research leads to better healthcare practices, less disease, and improvements to quality and longevity of life,” he said.
“It also helps to address the significant pressures facing the public health system."
Headed by world-renowned neuroscientist Professor Jürgen Götz, the centre is Australia’s first and only facility focussed entirely on research into the prevention and treatment of dementia.
QBI Director Professor Perry Bartlett said the appointment of Professor Götz was testament to the calibre of the centre.
“A world-leader in Alzheimer’s disease research, Professor Götz has made several ground-breaking discoveries, including work published in the prestigious journals Science and Cell, that brought to light the molecular mechanisms underlying the loss of brain function in Alzheimer’s,” he said.
“His insights have been used toward developing new therapeutic approaches for dementia treatment, and we’re very privileged to have him leading our team of researchers.”
Along with early detection and preventative strategies, therapeutic intervention is key to minimising the social and economic impact of dementia in Australia.
“Without a significant medical breakthrough, the number of Australians living with dementia is expected to soar to almost one million by 2050,” Professor Bartlett said.
CJCADR research is already making waves in the neuroscience space and is being used to develop therapeutic interventions.
Professor Götz has earned international acclaim for the discovery of how the molecule Tau causes neuronal demise in Alzheimer's disease.
“Highly enriched in neuronal cells, this protein forms insoluble clumps in the brains of Alzheimer patients, causing their neuronal demise, brain shrinkage and, ultimately, dementia,” Professor Götz said.
After discovering how Tau exerts its damage, CJCADR scientists have developed tools to model and monitor the early stages of disease, resulting in the successful use of genetic methods as well as small compounds and antibodies to block the disease process.
The team has also gained insight into neurogenesis and the ability of the brain to regenerate neurons – the loss of which can impair learning and memory.
“Given that until relatively recently, it was thought the adult brain was incapable of generating new neurons, this is a remarkable discovery,” Professor Götz said.
Also high on CJCADR’s research agenda is cell death and discovering molecules that might interfere with or block this death pathway.
“While more intensive research is needed to bring these discoveries to the patient, CJCADR scientists are on a launching path to make discoveries that help the growing number of dementia patients, both in Australia and overseas,“ he said.
For more information about the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research visit: http://www.qbi.uq.edu.au/cadr