Major new Alzheimer’s disease initiative announced

Federal Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt MP, has today announced a major new initiative in Alzheimer’s diagnosis, clinical trial enrolment and patient care. The Florey’s Melbourne Dementia Research Centre will manage $18 million.

Funded from the NHMRC’s $200 million Boosting Dementia Research Initiative, a new consortium of Australian dementia researchers has been formed to accelerate the pace of discovery into new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is Australia’s second leading cause of death. Without a medical breakthrough, the number of Australians with a diagnosis of dementia is expected to increase to over 530,000 by 2025 and over 1.1 million by 2056.

The Australian Dementia Network (ADNeT) brings together Australia’s leading dementia researchers including the leaders of existing, nationally significant ageing and dementia patient populations, clinical trial networks and emerging new opportunities such as a national dementia registry.

This network will create a sustainable, translational research infrastructure that enables ongoing, high quality research and clinical care for Australians living with, or at risk of, cognitive impairment and dementia.

“Accelerating innovation in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of dementia is a global priority and research effort that Australia is proud to be a part of,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

With an initial tranche of $18 million over five years, commencing on July 1st, 2018, the network has the potential to eventually attract up to $40 million in additional funding to achieve its six core aims:

  1. Establish an integrated network of dementia researchers, clinicians, service providers, industry, and consumers to drive this priority national translational research initiative
  2. Develop and maintain ADNeT-Registry, a clinical quality registry (CQR) that can track, benchmark and report on the quality of clinical care of people with dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to drive quality improvement, identify suitable and willing persons for clinical trials, and systematically collect longitudinal data for research on the determinants, epidemiology and trajectory of cognitive decline.
  3. Establish a national network of Memory Clinics to optimise the assessment of cognitive disorders and improve specialist access for all Australians
  4. Develop a large, highly-characterised cohort of people with dementia, or at increased risk of dementia, to populate a Trials-Ready Cohort for participation in cutting-edge clinical trials and to study the natural history of dementia
  5. Connect with existing infrastructure supporting clinical trials in Australia to enhance the capacity for state-of-the-art assessments and the conduct of clinical trials nationwide
  6. Integrate Australian research with the international effort to prevent or effectively treat dementia.

The ADNeT leadership team is drawn from institutions across Australia, including the Florey, Austin Health, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, The Council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Australian National University, Macquarie University, Monash University and the University of Tasmania.

Professor Chris Rowe, from Austin Health and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, says, “This initiative facilitates new developments in dementia diagnosis and treatment in the Australian context. By establishing a national dementia registry along with a national network of memory clinics we will be providing people with an even greater opportunity to take part in dementia clinical trials, reducing the time for new treatments to become available.”

Minister Hunt says, “ADNeT is all about seeing evidence-based strategies being brought into the community as quickly and effectively as possible to improve the lives of people with, and at risk of, dementia,”