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Otago researchers key to new Christchurch dementia clinic

Thursday 8 August 2019 10:35pm

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Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel at the recent opening of the new Christchurch Dementia Prevention Research Clinic.

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Clinic co-director, Otago's Professor Tim Anderson.

A Dementia Prevention Research Clinic has officially opened in Christchurch, providing affected Cantabrians access to detailed neurological assessments and the opportunity to be part of a study aimed at identifying factors influencing the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The Christchurch Dementia Prevention Research Clinic is the third in a national network of clinics established by Brain Research New Zealand| Rangahau Roro Aotearoa (BRNZ).

Brain Research New Zealand | Rangahau Roro Aotearoa (BRNZ) is a national Centre for Research Excellence undertaking ground-breaking research on the ageing brain and ageing-related neurological disorders. University of Otago scientists play crucial roles. University of Otago Professor Tim Anderson is the co-director of the Christchurch clinic.

Professor Anderson says the network of clinics are recruiting people “with problems with memory and thinking prior to getting Alzheimer’s dementia with the intent of finding new diagnostic tools and treatments so we can prevent dementia before it occurs.”

“By regularly following our clinic participants over years with detailed clinical and brain-imaging assessments, and storing blood samples for current and future research, not only are we aiming to make our own discoveries here in New Zealand, we will be able to combine with other studies overseas in an international effort to combat dementia.”

"... not only are we aiming to make our own discoveries here in New Zealand, we will be able to combine with other studies overseas in an international effort to combat dementia."

Participants may also be invited to join other studies that further understanding of these conditions, or to test interventions that might prevent or delay the progression of Alzheimer’s or related dementias, Professor Anderson says.

In 2016, Brain Research New Zealand set out to establish a national network of Dementia Prevention Research Clinics, opening a clinic in Auckland, followed by one in Dunedin in 2017.

More than 60,000 New Zealanders suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia – a number expected to triple by 2050.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and accounts for 50–60 per cent of all dementias.

Alzheimer’s disease currently has no cure. By the time a diagnosis is made, a significant amount of brain damage has already occurred yet changes in the brain occur many years if not decades before clinical symptoms show.