Murdoch University researcher calling for volunteers for Alzheimer’s study


Murdoch University research fellow Belinda Brown.
Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au   d473892
Murdoch University research fellow Belinda Brown. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d473892

A MURDOCH University researcher is sounding the call for volunteers to be part of a study that aims to determine the best kinds of exercise to combat Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise has long been recognised as beneficial to the ageing brain and Belinda Brown’s research is starting to investigate why.

Dr Brown, a researcher from Murdoch University’s School of Psychology and Exercise Science, will compare the effects of high-intensity and moderate-intensity exercise on the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Currently there is no effective cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s disease that can alter the disease course and so delaying the onset through lifestyle factors is very important,” Dr Brown said.

“There has been a lot of research that has evaluated physical activity level at one point in life and then followed these people up 10 or 20 years later to check on symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are now able to take a more immediate look at what’s going on in the brain.”

Dr Brown will use technology that identifies the levels of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of people.

“We can now use PET scanning on people to measure levels of amyloid and tau, which are two proteins that accumulate in the brain to cause Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr Brown said.

“This has enabled us to begin to understand how these proteins are connected to the disease by looking at people at different stages in life and finding associations with their levels of physical activity.”

A number of studies with different groups of people to investigate how exercise can maintain the ageing brain have already been conducted.

“We have recently completed a study on older adults who did not display any symptoms of the disease, and we showed that individuals who exercised more had lower levels of tau present,” she said.

“We have also examined a group of 30- to 40-year olds with a rare genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s disease, and found an association between higher levels of physical activity and slower rate of amyloid build up in the brain. Our next stage is to establish what type of activity is of most benefit to an ageing brain.”

Dr Brown is looking for generally healthy men and women without a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease aged between 60 and 80 to take part in the study.

Contact Shaun Markovic on 6457 0266 or email s.markovic@murdoch.edu.au.

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