Gut feeling – can gut microbiome predict Dementia?

Posted 11 Feb 2022

New research at Flinders will examine the outdoor environment’s potential for supplying health-beneficial butyrate-producing bacteria to people.

Dementia is a general term for a variety of symptoms that affect the brain, including thinking, behaviour, and the ability to perform normal everyday tasks. The most common forms of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. Combined, these conditions are the second leading cause of death for Australians.

Dementia has a devastating impact on nearly half a million Australians, and experts predict this figure will double by the year 2058. In 2021, South Australia had the highest proportion of people living with dementia (39,200) in the country.

Currently, there is no effective way of identifying people at greatest risk of developing dementia, or those in the early stages.

Dr Andrew Shoubridge has received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to connect gut microbiology features with signs of dementia in South Australians diagnosed with dementia through the Australian Dementia Network.

“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. By better understanding these relationships, we aim to develop strategies to reduce risk and prevent, or delay onset of dementia,” Dr Shoubridge said.

“We will identify opportunities to directly reduce dementia risk, both by informing effective public health measures and through the development of new therapies that target gut microbiology.

“This research project aims to help reduce the number of people living with dementia, the potential burden on their families and carers, and the wider South Australian and national communities.”

Research category: Clinical

Project title: Targeting of host-microbiome interactions to achieve precision dementia risk reduction  

Lead researcher: Dr Andrew Shoubridge


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