SALON – Alzheimer’s: Don’t Forget Your Genes
We all aspire to a long and healthy lifespan and most Australian males and females born today can expect to celebrate the milestone of their 80th birthday. A long lifespan, though, may not be synonymous with a meaningful lifespan.
If cognitive function becomes impaired by age related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, do the benefits of a long life become relatively meaningless? Recent discoveries around neurotoxic amyloid plaques that result in memory loss and cognitive decline, and the protective variant in the APP (amyloid precursor protein) gene on chromosome 21, have had dramatic implications for the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Join the conversation about the most recent discoveries and a number of exciting trials in development. The future looks hopeful for those born in 2016. Maybe the answer will be as simple as sound waves or just adding something to the water.
Meet the Speakers
Dr Guy Barry is Team Head of Neurogenomics at QIMR Berghofer, and explores molecular neurobiology using next generation sequencing and induced pluripotent stem cells – skin cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to mimic stem cells. His quest is to understand what makes us human – what underpins our cognitive thinking, how this has evolved, and how this connects to understanding and treating psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia and epilepsy, and the aging brain. Dr Barry started his research studies in South Africa, moving into biotechnology in San Diego, then joining some of Australia’s leading medical research institutes.
Professor Ashley Bush heads the Oxidation Biology Unit at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, is a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, and the Chief Scientific Officer of the Cooperative Research Center for Mental Health. He has published over 350 papers, 28 patents, and received numerous awards including the Victoria Prize and the Australia Fellowship. With over 40,000 citations, he is the most highly cited neuroscientist in Australia, and included in the Thomson ISI list of The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. He discovered the interaction of beta-amyloid with transition metals as a major factor in Alzheimer’s disease, and focuses on the neurobiology of metal ions and oxidative stress in neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.
Professor Jürgen Götz is the Foundation Chair of Dementia Research and Director of the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research (CJCADR) at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), The University of Queensland. Götz studied biochemistry at the University of Basel, and earned his PhD in immunology in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Georges Köhler at the Max-Planck-Institute in Freiburg, Germany. After postdoctoral work at UCSF and the Preclinical Research Division at Novartis Ltd in Basel, he established his reputation in the Alzheimer’s field as a research group leader at the University of Zürich (1994–2005).
In 2005, he was recruited as Chair of Molecular Biology to the University of Sydney, until taking up his new position at the University of Queensland in 2012. A major focus of the laboratory is the generation and analysis of transgenic animal models to gain a better mechanistic understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. He and his team use these animal models to develop therapeutic interventions targeting two key molecules in disease, tau and amyloid-beta. Professor Götz has authored more than 140 articles in leading journals in the field.
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