Research led by Professor Henry Brodaty at UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) has been highlighted in a special issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The protocol paper showcases the significance of CHeBA’s Maintain Your Brain study in relation to dementia risk reduction and translation into practice. Protocol papers standardly are used to help improve the standard of medical research.
Current estimates suggest that around the world there is a new case of dementia every 3 seconds. Unchanged, this will see the current number of 50 million people living with dementia triple by 2050.
Professor Henry Brodaty says that in the past 20 years there have been over 100 attempts at developing drug treatments for dementia but only four have been approved, all being symptomatic and not disease modifying. No new drug has been approved in almost 20 years.
“Given the scale of the issue and the challenging path to a cure, there is an increasing focus on prevention,” says Professor Brodaty.
“As much as 30% of all late-life dementia could be associated with preventable lifestyle factors,” he said.
Maintain Your Brain (MYB) is a randomised controlled trial of an online multi-modal lifestyle intervention targeting these modifiable dementia risk factors with the primary aim being to reduce cognitive decline in people aged 55-77 years.
“The people in our trial are young enough to be able to prevent the accumulation of more pathology in their brain, and old enough that we can study the outcomes to benefit future generations,” says Professor Brodaty.
The published paper details the protocol for this three-year trial which focuses on interventions built around four areas of physical activity, nutrition, cognitive training and mental health. Interventions are personalised so participants receive the most appropriate modules.
Lead author of the paper and Study Coordinator of Maintain Your Brain, Dr Megan Heffernan, says that the study finished recruitment in October 2018, with over 6,000 people volunteering to be involved.
“Our participants are currently completing their 12-month assessments.
“If successful, MYB will provide a model for not just effective intervention among older adults, but an intervention that is scalable for broad use internationally,” says Dr Heffernan.