New research to develop blood biomarker test for dementia awarded Government funding

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of people who live with the neurological condition. Receiving an accurate clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease remains a challenge with 3 in 10 people experiencing incorrect or delayed diagnosis.

A research project led by The Florey Institute will assemble the largest ever dementia research cohort in Australia with the aim to develop a blood biomarker test to predict onset and progression of cognitive decline in dementia. For people living with the disease, it could mean a faster and more accurate diagnosis.

The project, led by Professor Ashley Bush, Head of The Florey’s Ageing Brain Division and Director of the Melbourne Research Dementia Centre, has been awarded $4M in multi-year funding from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund – Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission scheme.

The project is set to assemble what will be the largest ever dementia research cohort in Australia, bringing together expertise in biomarker development and research translation. The team will work with commercial partners to introduce the first TGA-registered blood test for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as develop guidelines for clinicians and examine the impact of a diagnostic blood test on health and management outcomes.

Professor Bush says diagnostic and predictive blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease are urgently needed.

“The project brings together Australia’s leading dementia researchers who are joined in wanting to see affordable, fast and accurate diagnosis of dementia available across Australia. Arming clinicians with a blood test-based diagnostic tool that can detect disease biomarkers present in the early stages of dementia would transform clinical research and practice of how dementia is diagnosed. Providing a predictive blood test would go beyond this and allow early intervention and investigation of new therapeutic targets for dementias,” said Professor Ashley Bush.

“We thank the Australian Government for their significant funding support in this project which we hope will substantially improve the health and wellbeing of Australians who live with dementia and improve the journey for those who will be diagnosed with dementia in the future,” said Professor Bush.

The Florey will work with a consortium of partnering institutes on the project, including Austin Health, University of Sydney, CSIRO Health and Biosecurity Flagship, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, The University of Newcastle, The University of Melbourne and The University of the Sunshine Coast.

Professor Ashley Bush, Head of The Florey’s Ageing Brain Division and Director of the Melbourne Research Dementia Centre