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Queensland dementia treatment progresses to human trials

13 Dec 2022

A ground-breaking new method to treat dementia using an ultrasound device has moved to human safety trials in Queensland.

Through the Advance Queensland initiative, the Queensland Government provided $5 million to the Queensland Brain Institute’s (QBI) Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research to progress the revolutionary, non-invasive treatment for the degenerative disease impacting an estimated 94,000 people in Queensland.

Dementia is one of the most pressing health issues in a rapidly ageing society, affecting almost one in 10 people over the age of 65 and it is the second leading cause of death in Australia.

Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people living with dementia in Queensland alone is expected to increase to an estimated 207,000 people by 2058.

Since their breakthrough discovery in 2015 that ultrasound could clear proteins which accumulate in the brain from Alzheimer’s disease, Queensland researchers have been working on a therapeutic device suitable for use on people.

The device has been tested on aged mice which has been shown to improve their memories.

The project has now moved to human safety trials with 12 patients undergoing the treatment.

University of Queensland’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the safety and tolerability trial was a significant step forward for research that had been ongoing for about a decade.

“The first participant in the trial has completed their course of four fortnightly treatments to an area of the brain that is affected early in the course of Alzheimer’s disease,” Professor Terry said.

“Each participant will have an MRI scan of the brain, an EEG and cognitive test both before and after their treatment course to monitor the outcome.

“Reaching this hugely important juncture has only been possible with tremendous support from the government and community.”

Not only does dementia affect the person living with the condition and their family, but it also impacts our whole society

In the next 40 years, ultrasound therapy has the potential to save our economy $1 trillion in medical and aged care, along with lost income and productivity related to dementia

The Queensland Government has been a long-time supporter of QBI, investing $59 million since 2005 to establish the Institute and support its research.

The partnership not only provides health and economic benefits for the state, but also consolidates the state’s standing as a world-leading research hub for biomedical innovation, creating sustainable, knowledge-based jobs here in Queensland.

This project alone has supported 11 good, secure jobs.

Funding for the ultrasound was provided through the Advance Queensland initiative to deliver future economic growth and jobs creation in Queensland.