UNIVERSITY OF TASMANIA
Wicking Dementia Centre
The Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre is housed at the Medical Sciences Precinct, Hobart at the University of Tasmania. The Centre is at the forefront of translational research and support for issues confronting people with dementia and their careers. Projects are being carried out across research fields such as neuroscience, medicine, nursing, psychology and sociology, health, economics and policy.
Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the Wicking Dementia Centre
The Neuroscience group at the Wicking Dementia Centre are dedicated to investigating the cause of neurodegeneration in diseases of old age and developing preventative and therapeutic strategies to help reduce the impact of neurodegenerative disease. Their research ranges from stem cell models derived from patience skin samples through to large cohort studies assessing public health interventions.
Therapeutics to treat neurodegeneration
Loss of nerve cells is central to the symptoms of neurodegenerative disease; changes such as loss of cognition (memory, thinking) and impaired ability to walk, loss of balance and movement. In order to find drugs to treat neurodegeneration we need to understand why and how nerve cells are lost. A core focus of our research group is to understand the vulnerability of the long nerve processes called axons that are the connections between the nerve cells. We are coupling our research with the characterization of blood biomarkers, proteins present in the blood that can tell us about what is going on inside the brain. Detection of neurodegeneration in the brain will allow us not only to detect changes early on, but also to determine the efficacy of treatment strategies.
Preventing or compensating for neurodegeneration
Most neurodegenerative diseases result from a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors. Understanding the genetic risk factors allows us to identify those at risk and targeting environmental risk factors allows us to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease in vulnerable individual. While risk factors for many diseases have been identified, their contribution to disease is not well understood and there are many more potential risk factors that need investigating. A key focus of research at the Wicking Centre is on the role that cognitive stimulation can play in preventing or mitigating against the neurodegenerative changes that occur during ageing.