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Australian scientists make promising dementia breakthrough

18 December 18

Researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute hope to be able to restore the memory of dementia sufferers, following successful trials of a breakthrough ultrasound technique that has proven successful on mice and sheep.

Thanks to $10 million in federal funding that was announced yesterday, the next stage will see the method tested on up to 10 patients in Brisbane who have early-onset dementia.

The technology removes toxic plaques from the brain and has successfully reversed Alzheimer’s symptoms and restored memory function in animal models at the University of Queensland’s Brain Institute.

Professor Jurgen Gotz told 9News researchers had not expected the technology to work so well.

“We did hope that it would work, but we didn’t expect such a massive effect,” he said.

He said the technique is not a full cure but researchers hope the method, once further developed, will allow plaque to be removed for about three years before another treatment is required.

“We will push out the age at which Alzheimer’s would develop, which effectively means for a patient it could feel like a cure,” he said.

“When used at a stage when the (disease) is not too advanced… Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented even in people who are predisposed.”

The long term goal is to come up with an affordable, portable device that can be used to treat Alzheimer’s patients across the country.

Find out more about the trial at https://qbi.uq.edu.au/dementia-clinical-trial

"While it is too early to know if the treatment will be effective for humans living with dementia, the QBI notes that as an indication, the average timeframe from the point of discovery to a treatment being available is 15 years. The initial ultrasound discovery was made in 2015."