A healthy older couple wearing bike helmets standing together with bicycles.

The AIBL study will involve 1000 Australians aged over 60 years.

Preventative Health cluster study fighting Alzheimer’s Disease

The Preventative Health National Research Flagship is leading research into the pathogenesis and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • 10 July 2008 | Updated 11 October 2012

Background

Every week about 1 000 Australians are diagnosed with dementia, a disease which costs Australia A$6.6 billion annually. About 80 per cent of dementia in Australia is caused by Alzheimer's disease.

According to research prepared for Alzheimer’s Australia by Access Economics, the number of Australians with dementia is rising exponentially and is expected to exceed 730 000 (almost 3 per cent of the projected population) by 2050.

Tackling the issue

Tackling this issue, the Preventative Health National Research Flagship has established the A$10 million Australian Imaging, Biomarker and Lifestyle (AIBL) Flagship Study of Ageing in conjunction with partners from:

  • The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia
  • Edith Cowan University, Perth
  • Neurosciences Australia, Melbourne, Victoria
  • the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria, Melbourne.

Professor David Ames, Professor of Psychiatry of Old Age at The University of Melbourne, is leading the study.

How the study will work

Approximately 1 000 participants aged over 60 have been recruited from Victoria and Western Australia.

These participants are grouped into five categories:

  • healthy participants with no genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease
  • healthy participants carrying a gene variant that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
  • participants concerned about their memory
  • patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment
  • patients diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.

This grouping will allow researchers to identify key differences between people with and without Alzheimer’s disease.

The AIBL study brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines across Australia, linking leading-edge science on Alzheimer’s disease with human population studies and data.

AIBL researchers have found a way to bring forward the detection of early-stage Alzheimer's Disease by up to 
eighteen months

It will integrate expertise in:

  • neuroimaging
  • biomarkers
  • psychometrics
  • lifestyle interventions.

The AIBL study is the world’s largest study involving the brain scan known as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) using Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB), a PET amyloid-imaging agent.

Participants are asked to give a blood sample and complete some questionnaires and memory tasks, and one quarter of the sample will be invited to have a brain scan. Each participant then returns in 18 months to repeat the process.

Baseline tests have now been completed for all partcipants in the study. AIBL research has found a way to detect early-stage Alzheimer's disease up to 18 months earlier than currently available techniques.

Outcomes

The AIBL study will help researchers develop and confirm a set of diagnostic markers, biomarkers and psychometrics that can be used to objectively monitor disease progression and to develop hypotheses about diet and lifestyle factors that might delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

As there are no currently known biomarkers or preventative strategies for Alzheimer’s disease, there is much opportunity for ground-breaking research.

Successful completion of this three-year study will enable the design and conduct of further extensive cohort studies that may lead to clinically proven preventative strategies for Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn more about CSIRO’s work in the Preventative Health Flagship.