New research suggests it is our immune systems that are to blame for diseases such as dementia, which overwhelmingly affect people over the age of 65.
New research suggests it is our immune systems that are to blame for diseases such as dementia, which overwhelmingly affect people over the age of 65. Bev Lacey

Research gives new hope to dementia treatment

COULD our immune systems be to blame for dementia?

A new theory from researchers in Adelaide has pinpointed persistent inflammation that causes brain cells to die as the potential cause of dementia and other diseases that cause the neurological system to degenerate.

University of Adelaide's Professor Robert Richards led the study and said there was strong evidence diseases such as dementia was caused by out-of-control immune systems.

Neurodegenerative diseases include Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's diseases. 

Alzheimer's Australia research from February this year shows more than 353,000 people in Australia have dementia, including more than 25,000 people who were diagnosed under the age of 65.

Their statistics also show it is the second leading cause of death in the country.

"These diseases are an enormous burden on families and the public health care system," Professor Richards said.

"Australia is predicting that by 2050 there will be almost double the number of people with dementia."

Professor Richards said researchers had previously focused on protein deposits in the brain as a potential cause.

He said researchers hoped the new theory could also lead to new treatments that would allow drugs to delay or halt the progression of these diseases.

"We now need to further investigate the immune signalling molecules to identify new drug targets," he said.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.
 



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