CSIRO researchers say that early detection of dementia is key

12 May, 2009

CSIRO recognises the importance of studies like the report Access Economics recently released; “Making Choices – Future Dementia Care: Projections, Problems and Preferences”, for it informs planning in strategic research.

The leader of dementia research in CSIRO’s Preventative Health National Research Flagship, Dr Cassandra Szoeke, says the report highlights the challenge the nation faces with the number dementia sufferers predicted to double to 465,000 by 2030.

“About 80 per cent of dementia in Australia is caused by Alzheimer's disease,” Dr Szoeke, says. “Early diagnosis is crucial if we are to begin managing this crisis more effectively.”

“By the time sufferers show symptoms of memory loss, severe irreversible brain cell death may have already occurred.”

“In Australia every week another 1000 people are being diagnosed with dementia. It is only by early diagnosis that treatment can be effective, preserving memory and brain.”

“With the initiation of the AIBL (Australian Imaging, Biomarker and Lifestyle) cluster study the combined institutions have potentially brought forward the detection of Alzheimer’s disease by 18 months,” Dr Szoeke says.

“Early detection can not only aid with future treatment options but it can also help with the planning and delivery of dementia care services in Australia.”

Released earlier this week, the Access Economics report also found that investment in dementia research is a key strategy for addressing the epidemic.

“There is no question that research is the key to reducing the burden of the disease on the community for the future and CSIRO and its partners will continue to seek effective, new approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these diseases,” Dr Szoeke says.