Exploring novel biomarkers for non-Alzheimer’s dementia

In recent times, we have participated in a revolution in which the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other non-Alzheimer’s dementia, such as small vessel cerebrovascular dementia (VaD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and dementia Lewy body (DLB), are being clinically characterised. Given the overwhelmingly higher prevalence of AD in our ageing society, most of the scientific endeavours have focused on this condition.

The field has now moved to a point where high performance biofluid (cerebrospinal fluid [CSF], plasma) tests are proven reliable for β-amyloid (Aβ) and p-tau measurement, the impact of lifestyle risk factors on the onset and progression of AD are being established, and the disease-modifying therapeutics are in advanced stages of clinical development. On the other hand, there has been very little progress in research on VaD and FTD despite their detrimental impacts on people’s life, similar to AD. This is partly due to the lack of biomarkers for identifying and recruiting participants at early stage of VaD and FTD, making it difficult to understand the cause and to study the disease progression comprehensively. Indeed, most human studies on VaD and FTD are built on postmortem samples and biofluids collected from patients at relatively advanced disease stages.


  • Identify biomarkers for the early detection and differential diagnosis of VaD, FTD and DLB from AD.
  • Explore novel therapeutic targets for early-stage VaD, FTD and DLB.

Our team has established observational cohort studies in both Australia and Japan designed to unravel the natural history of dementia. Leveraging these longitudinal studies, we will utilize both a targeted and an explorative approach to accelerate research on non-Alzheimer’s dementia in this Australia-Japan collaborative project with a focus on FTD, DLB and VaD.

This project is of clinical significance. The goal is to enhance dementia diagnostic accuracy and accelerate the development of disease-specific interventions and management strategies. At patient levels, early and accurate diagnosis will allow them to make informed decision about the future care plan, obtain better support and arrange other financial matters. Our study will support larger scale investment in this research area, e.g., validation of the potential therapeutic targets we identify, and clinical trial to evaluate the impact of modifiable risk management. These will ultimately transform health practice, patient management, achieve long-term cost-benefits and enhance quality of life of people living with dementia in Australia, Japan and globally.

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