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ADNet to accelerate research for the prevention and treatment of Dementia

Exercise Physiology / Science, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Psychology

On 2nd July 2018, the Turnbull Government announced plans of the establishment of the Australian Dementia Network (ADNet). ADNet, once established will be considered as the largest single research program to be funded to date through the Government’s Boosting Dementia Research Initiative.

Spearheaded by Professor Christopher Rowe of Austin Health, ADNet commits to facilitate high-quality research and clinical care through the cooperation of researchers, clinicians and health service providers with people living with dementia to present the ADNet Registry and research program.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt AM said, “Dementia is already the biggest killer of Australian women and the second most common cause of death among the overall population, claiming more than 13,000 lies each year. This is the accelerator we need to win the race against dementia.

“By significantly increasing public access to, and participation in, clinical trials it will also speed the development and approval of new prevention and treatment therapies.”

He continued, “ADNet means Australia will be a strong contributor to, and an early beneficiary of, the worldwide search for dementia treatments and cures.”

“At present, an estimated 425,000 Australians are living with dementia. The potential power of ADNet is our best hope of preventing that number reaching more than one million by 2050” the Minister said.

In support of the movement against dementia, Exercise Sports and Science Australia (ESSA) on the other hand, emphasized the importance of community-based exercise not only for brain health but also for dementia and other cognitive conditions.

Beth Sheehan, Accredited Exercise Physiologist explains, “Social inclusion is a fundamental human right for all Australians. The importance of facilitating social opportunities for Australians with dementia and other cognitive conditions that also enhance and prolong quality of life needs to be discussed on a global level.

“Whilst there is no cure as yet for dementia, physical activity and exercise has been shown to improve memory and learning whilst also addressing co-morbidities associated with sedentary behaviour which is common amongst individuals with dementia,” Ms Sheehan argued.

ESSA states that these community-based programs can provide the vital link between people with dementia accessing exercise in a safe environment. It commits to:

  • Increase levels of motivation and enjoyment
  • Improve physical function and independence
  • Minimise the growing incidence rates of chronic disease
  • Assist older adults to live longer and fuller lives
  • Provide access to additional aged care services
  • Offer safety and supervision when undertaking exercise
  • Offer social connectedness and interaction, encouraging the Dementia Friend movement.

Several philanthrophic organisations like the JO and JR Wicking Trust, and the Yulgilbar Foundation, along with universities, research centres, and State Governments also expressed commitment to the initiative, boosting the $18 million government investment by $20 million more.

ADNeT will:

  • Establish a national network of memory clinics to speed assessment of cognitive disorders and improve specialist access for all Australians, through advanced imaging, genetics and lifestyle data
  • Register and prepare volunteers for participation in clinical trials and other research programs, by providing them with state of the art diagnosis and tracking their disease trajectory
  • Collate and compare data to chart dementia causes, progression and risks and potential new treatments, while supporting research participants and benchmarking clinical care
  • Ensure Australian and international data can be shared, providing unprecedented research access to global data and collaboration, to inform prevention, treatment and care.

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

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