Australian Alzheimer's therapy breakthrough

A better understanding is needed of what happens to brain molecules during dementia, scientists say.
A better understanding is needed of what happens to brain molecules during dementia, scientists say.

Australian researchers are hopeful they have found a treatment that could reverse the impacts of memory loss in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

The Macquarie University Dementia Research Centre study builds on previous research that found an enzyme in the brain could modify a protein so it prevents the development of Alzheimer's symptoms.

This latest research went further by finding the gene responsible for the enzyme could help restore or improve memory in mice suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease.

The findings also suggest the gene therapy, which involves genetic material being introduced to cells to replace abnormal genes, may be effective in other forms of dementia found in much younger patients in their 40s and 50s.

The researchers found gene therapy is safe at high doses and long term, with no adverse impacts.

One of the study leaders, Dr Arne Ittner, says a better understanding is needed of what happens to the molecules in the brain during dementia.

"Our work delivers a very powerful piece in this puzzle," he said in a statement.

His brother and co-research leader, Professor Lars Ittner, said he was excited to see 10 years of research transition into clinical development that could benefit people living with dementia.

"This provides hope as there is a lot of therapy out there focused on prevention but not much for those already affected by the disease," he said.

The two researchers said the possible success of this new therapy could be within reach in five to 10 years.

Australian Associated Press