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ECU team awarded Alzheimer's research funding

Tuesday, 08 April 2008


Edith Cowan University's (ECU) Professor Ralph Martins and Dr Matthew Sharman have been awarded $484, 000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to investigate the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine therapies in combating Alzheimer's disease.

The ECU team is looking at a combination of known compounds that have shown promise as therapeutic agents, but have been insufficient on their own, to stop Alzheimer's.

A combination approach is expected to produce the desired synergy that would allow effective clinical outcomes not achievable with individual treatments.

The compounds being evaluated include curcumin from the curry spice turmeric; DHA from omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils); EGCG from green tea and lipoic acid.

The grant will allow validation of this combination antioxidant approach in an animal trial before human trials can be undertaken.

The number of Alzheimer's patients in Australia is expected to triple by the year 2050 due to our ageing population, and preventing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer's has become increasingly important.

"The development of effective preventative strategies for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease is critical if we are to reduce the number of people that are expected to develop Alzheimer's disease over the next 50 years, due to the rapidly ageing population" said Professor Martins.

"The outcomes of this research may provide disease modifying therapies for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease."

ECU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry Cox says the University is committed to supporting health research that focuses on prevention and early detection.

"Our ageing population is presenting a new set of challenges for health-care professionals and this is an area of great concern" he said.

"The work of Professor Martins and his team will help to reduce the social and economic impact of age-related diseases."

Professor Martins is Director of the Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease Research and Care at ECU's Joondalup Campus.

Professor Martins' team has already achieved several world-firsts, including discovering how obesity can lead to Alzheimer's and how testosterone treatments can reduce levels of the protein blamed for many of the devastating symptoms.

ECU is the only Western Australian university to receive project funding from the NHMRC in this round.

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