15 Sep 2015
KATE CROSBIE and HEIDI DOUGLASS | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Roth Charitable Foundation (RCF) became the first Founding Gold Member of The Dementia Momentum® when it awarded the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) a $90,000 philanthropic grant over six years to identify early markers of Alzheimer’s Disease. RCF’s contribution will support a part-time PhD candidate, Dr Helen Wu, who will investigate novel genetic biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Established in 1989 by the late Henry and Ann Roth and substantially enlarged by their sons John and Stanley, the Roth Charitable Foundation has an extensive history of distributing essential funding to research institutes, educational establishments, hospitals and welfare organisations to improve the lives of fellow Australians.
John Roth and Stanley Roth AM, Directors of the Roth Charitable Foundation and sons of the founders said they were very pleased to be able to support The Dementia Momentum®.
“This is a critical area of research with significant implications for all Australians,” they said.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease are known to have neuropathology in their brains for over twenty years before any symptoms occur, meaning that by the time the disease is identified, irreversible cognitive damage has occurred. Current methods for detecting early markers, or biomarkers, for Alzheimer’s disease are highly invasive, expensive, difficult to access or not specific enough to be consistently useful. Since only 1-2% of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease are clearly genetic, gene-environment interactions (known as epigenetics) are understood to play a major role in the cause and progression of the disease. Funds from RCF will be used to investigate a new potential biomarker for memory loss, micro-RNA (miRNA) in blood samples. MiRNAs are are non-coding, i.e. they do not form proteins which regular RNA does. However, this does not mean they are non-functional and in fact may have an important role in gene regulation. Only a few research groups are investigating their potential role in Alzheimer’s disease
“The ideal biomarker should identify the neurodegenerative process before cognitive decline has begun and correlate to severity and progression. miRNA may well turn out to be one such marker,” explained CHeBA Co-Director Professor Perminder Sachdev. “This would have significant implications for therapeutics, since treatment in the preclinical stage may yield greater benefit as well as reducing the burden on the health system and aged care services.”
“We are excited to have Dr Helen Wu on board for this project. With a first class honours in medicine and training in geriatrics, Dr Wu is extremely bright, driven and talented and is sure to make a strong contribution to this novel field of Alzheimer’s research,” said Professor Sachdev.
“Founding Members of The Dementia Momentum®, like Roth Charitable Foundation, have been integral to building our success to date,” said Professor Sachdev. “Gaining the early support of major, well-respected philanthropic donors such as the Roth Charitable Foundation has provided a major impetus for our initiative and we have now passed the $1 million mark towards our goal of $10 million over five years. With greater funding critical to improving dementia research outcomes, philanthropic-research partnerships like this are helping to create a brighter future for dementia incidence in Australia.”