Dementia Research Unit
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are the two most common neurodegenerative disorders in humans. They are characterised by insoluble protein deposits; beta-amyloid plaques and tau-containing neurofibrillary lesions in AD, and alpha-synuclein-containing Lewy bodies in PD. As a significant percentage of patients have clinical and pathological features of both diseases, the patho-cascades of the two diseases might overlap.
Approximately 245,400 Australians are currently diagnosed with dementia, causing a huge socio-economic impact. With an aging population, numbers are projected to increase to 1.3 million cases by 2050, making dementia a major health threat in the near future. Of all forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent, and it is characterised by a progressive decline of cognition that is associated with deposition of proteins in brain. Amyloid-β (Aβ) forms extracellular plaques, while hyperphosphorylated tau forms intracellular neurofibrillary tangles. To date, diagnostic tools are limited and there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease.
The research of A/Prof Lars Ittner and his team aims at identifying pathological mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, and then further translate these findings into novel therapies to battle these devastating disorders. This cutting-edge research involves the latest transgenic in vivo technologies, complemented by novel neuronal cell culture systems.