Despite dementia being an important cause of disability and dependency in older age, we are unable to identify those individuals who are at high risk before the development of symptoms. This means we are less able to provide early support, and that opportunities to prevent or delay the onset of disease are missed. Healthy gut microbiology can help to prevent inflammation that contributes to dementia risk. We have shown that features of intestinal microbiology are associated with dementia severity. Our study aims to better understand these relationships by connecting gut microbiology and inflammatory features with clinical signs of dementia in South Australians diagnosed with dementia through the Australian Dementia Network. In addition, we aim to develop strategies to reduce risk and prevent or delay onset, both by informing effective public health measures and through the development of new therapies that target gut microbiology or immune regulation. Our study will also be facilitated by the creation of a collaborative South Australian dementia care group that will integrate the laboratory, clinic, and community. This group will engage with existing and new stakeholders and help to shape an initiative that enhances dementia research and care.
At the time of award, Andrew was a postdoctoral research fellow in the field of Chronic Disease and Neurodegeneration in the Microbiome and Host Health group at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.