Imagine a future where a diagnosis of dementia could actually be accompanied by hope.
That powerful dream occupies the waking hours of former school principal John Quinn who is living with younger onset dementia, as well as the man determined to make it a reality, Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) Director, Professor Pankaj Sah.
So great was the shame Mr Quinn felt at being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 59 that it took him two years to tell his son.
“I didn’t know what to tell him. My darkest moment lasted six years, sitting at home staring at the walls, knowing there’s no treatment or cure,” Mr Quinn said.
“Dementia is like ripples on water. So many people are impacted.”
Dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is but one disorder, has huge costs — both psychologically and emotionally — to the people living with the disease and their families. But it also costs the Australian economy $14 billion a year.
In a significant breakthrough, QBI researchers have discovered that an ultrasound treatment could remove the plaque that builds up in the brain of people living with dementia — effectively reversing their memory loss and cognitive decline.
“We now have a non-invasive procedure that will be affordable, effective and can be taken out to the community,” Professor Sah said.
With additional funding support and resources, this treatment could be moved through discovery to clinical trials, commercial development and application in the next three to five years.
“If a cure can be found, thousands of families would know this horrible journey can be endured,” Mr Quinn said.