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Dementia network the accelerator Australia needs: Wyatt

Memory centres and a registry of clinical trial volunteers are two of the tentpoles of a new dementia network, which Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt is calling the accelerator Australia needs “to win the race against dementia”.

The Australian Dementia Network (ADNet) will receive government funding of $18 million – through the $200 million Boosting Dementia Research Initiative – along with $20 million in commitments from universities, philanthropists, industry, research centres and State governments.

Wyatt’s office said the memory clinics will speed up assessment of cognitive disorders, boost public access to clinical trials, and ensure Australian and international data can be better shared.

“By significantly increasing public access to, and participation in, clinical trials it will also speed the development and approval of new prevention and treatment therapies.”

Dementia Australia chief executive Maree McCabe said the funding will make reality a vision long held by researchers, the peak itself and people impacted by dementia for an integrated registry of researchers, studies, information, data and clinicians to ensure there is more targeted, effective research.

“For researchers, ADNet is about harnessing the power of ‘big data’ to ensure that we have a far more comprehensive and integrated picture of clinical research that will provide a more comprehensive picture of the characteristics of dementia.

“It will enable that picture to be built across a wide range of datasets and for researchers to more effectively identify cohorts of people for future studies,” McCabe said.

The network’s leveraging of researchers, clinicians, health service providers, industry and, most significantly, people impacted by dementia will better position Australian dementia researchers internationally to contribute more effectively and with more clarity to the global puzzle of dementia.

Dementia advocate John Quinn, who is living with the disease, said the move is a commitment to invite all people with dementia to the research table.

“In the past two years, I have not only participated in some studies, but I am also on numerous research committees,” Quinn said. “I am proud that I can contribute to this progress towards better care now and a future cure. I believe this is a major shift forward for dementia research and for all people impacted by dementia.”

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