The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), based at the University of Queensland (UQ), is already home to an impressive research portfolio for attacking Alzheimer’s disease and dementia on multiple fronts. Now, a partnership led by QBI has received a new infusion of funding – in the amount of $1 million – from the Australian government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) “Frontier Health and Medical Research” scheme. MRFF selected only 10 projects for the initiative’s first stage of funding, which runs for 12 months. The successful applicants from Stage One will then be invited back to compete for a multi-year investment to bring frontier medical discoveries to the public. These successful second-stage projects will represent the most ground-breaking research with the potential to save millions of lives, transform healthcare, and stimulate growth in the biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors.
Professor Jürgen Götz, the project’s principal investigator and Director of the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research, said the $1M funding will allow the collaborative network led by QBI to develop a business case for a new industry based on therapeutic ultrasound.
“Ultrasound is an emerging noninvasive technology with the potential to improve the lives of millions of patients with brain diseases,” said Dr. Götz. “Our vision is to accelerate the development and delivery of therapeutic ultrasound as a safe and effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, and as a platform to deliver drugs for brain diseases more generally. The worldwide market for brain disease treatment was US$28 billion in 2016, demonstrating a pressing social and economic need for improved therapies.”
UQ investigators from QBI, the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the Centre for Advanced Imaging, the Australian Institute for Business and Economics, and UniQuest Pty Ltd are partnering with QUT, The University of Western Australia, New Zealand’s Callaghan Innovation, Queensland Health, Centenary Institute, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Hydrix Pty Ltd, and the Herston Imaging Research Facility on the project.
As described in our 2019 research site profile, scientists at QBI are tackling dementia from every angle, including:
- Activating microglia to digest amyloid
- Dissecting pathways to protein aggregation
- Discovering biomarkers or combination biomarkers for early diagnosis of dementia
- Studying how the BBB opens under normal and diseased conditions
- Delivering various biological agents
- Developing improved multipurpose animal models
“Dr. Götz has established a program that is determined to help find a treatment — and possibly a cure — for dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease,” said the Foundation’s Director of Clinical Relationships, Suzanne LeBlang, MD. “His preclinical work has been critical in translating the focused ultrasound technology for study in human clinical trials. The $1 million award will fund continued research and give hope to the millions of people affected by dementia. This amount of money significantly expedites the technological developments and clinical trials needed to commercialize focused ultrasound for the treatment of patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”
“The Focused Ultrasound Foundation has been an excellent advocate for therapeutic ultrasound and an able facilitator of bringing different stakeholders together,” added Götz. “Without its vision and engagement, the field would not be where it currently stands. The QBI team looks forward to an ongoing fruitful relationship and is glad for the contribution it could make to the ultrasound field.”
Research Site Profile: University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute January 2019
Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial at Queensland Brain Institute Receives $10M Funding January 2019
Investigator Profile: Q&A with Jürgen Götz, PhD October 2015
Study Suggests Focused Ultrasound May Help Unlock Alzheimer’s March 2015