Hunter researchers are set to launch two new studies hoping to identify dementia risk in older people and even delay progression of the disease.

The studies will focus on finding out if the buildup of plaques thought to cause Alzheimer’s will work as a predictive test. 

There’s also potential new approaches to antibody therapy could help remove the beta amyloid protein which makes up the plaques, slowing or reversing dementia symptoms.

The efforts are part of a collaboration between the Hunter Medical Research Institute and the Australian Dementia Network, in conjunction with international drug companies.

Professor Michael Breakspear, the neuroscientist leading the team, says the trials are a great opportunity for the Hunter.

“This is what’s really new about these clinical trials, and the one that we’ve got here in Newcastle,” Prof Breakspear said.

“We can find people in the community who look like they’re really on that dangerous path to dementia and they’ve got amyloid in their brain, and for the first time we can offer them a treatment that will stop that accumulation of amyloid.”

Researchers are currently looking for local participants to sign up to the trials.

Prof Breakspear says the first trial will involve cognitive assessments, genetic studies, and brain scans, while the second will focus on finding out if the antibody treatments are effective.

“It would be great to be able to identify people in their late 50s, 60s, and early 70s, and say, we think you’re highly likely to be developing dementia,” Prof Breakspear said.

“Here are some treatments we can offer you at the moment that will delay or even reverse or prevent what otherwise might happen in 10 or 15 years.”

People interested in taking part in the trial can find out more at