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27th May 2024 Latest News Dementia

Paving the way for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease

Chris Belder resized

Improving the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is the end goal of new research underway in South Australia – with one of the state’s brightest minds lured home to carry out the work.   

Dr Christopher Belder has been awarded The Hospital Research Foundation Group’s Dementia Fellow and will be based at the CALHN Memory Service and Memory Trials Unit at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital. 

Made possible through the support of our generous donors, Dr Belder will use biomarkers to identify Alzheimer’s disease (a type of dementia) at an earlier interval when treatments can be most effective. 

After undertaking clinical fellowships at London’s National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Dementia Research Centre at University College London, Dr Belder said he was honoured to return home and take up the position. 

“It is a great privilege, this is an incredibly exciting time for dementia care, research and treatment,” Dr Belder said. 

Described as the greatest healthcare challenge of our time, dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and has no cure. 

Being diagnosed with dementia can often be a long and frustrating journey and is not always straightforward – hence the excitement around potential new tests. 

A key element in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease is the build-up of a protein in the brain called amyloid-beta and specialised PET scans or a lumbar puncture can be used to detect its presence. 

Dr Belder will use these methods to develop his work and provide people with a timelier diagnosis.  

Emerging evidence suggests new dementia treatments could work best when administered early, so identifying people with high levels of amyloid is vital for future advancements.  

An Adelaide-based clinical trial to test this theory is also in the works, with the treatments awaiting approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.  

Dr Belder said the impact dementia has on the Australian healthcare system is “extraordinary”, and providing patients with access to new therapeutics would help alleviate the pressure. 

“With our ageing population and with treatment developments in a lot of other aspects of medicine advancing quite significantly, these treatments will be an important part of addressing what is an enormous healthcare issue,” he said. 

Dr Belder will work alongside neurologist Dr Cathy Short on the project, while undertaking his PhD at Adelaide University under the supervision of renowned neurologist and stroke expert Associate Professor Tim Kleinig.  

We look forward to providing you with more updates on Dr Belder’s exciting work soon.