1 Mar 2019

MRFF funding allows testing of frontotemporal dementia drug

Tony Hughes and his wife Ann, who shared their story about
frontotemporal dementia with The Age
The Department of Neuroscience featured in The Age recently following funding for a phase II trial to explore the efficacy of sodium selenate at slowing the progression of dementia. The trial is funded by a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant that was announced as part of a $1.6 million suite of grants from the Federal government.

Sodium selenate is a relatively inexpensive drug that Professor Terence O'Brien believes may help slow the progression of frontotemporal dementia, which can cause behavioural and personality changes.

Researchers have previously found that around half of people with frontotemporal dementia have dense tangles of a protein called tau in their brain. They are caused by an abnormality in the molecular structure of normal tau, rendering it 'sticky' and insoluble. The tangles are also commonly found in people with Alzheimer's and other diseases, and they block certain brain functions.

Professor O'Brien says sodium selenate helps a brain enzyme break down the tau tangles, freeing up neural pathways and potentially protecting or restoring brain functions. His group are currently running a Phase I trial of sodium selenate in patients who have frontotemporal dementia which has shown that selenate is relatively safe and well tolerated. Professor O’Brien’s Epilepsy and Neuropharmacology group have previously published pre-clinical studies showing that treatment with sodium selenate is neuroprotective in animal models of a variety of animal models of neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, traumatic brain injury, and epilepsy.

You can read more, including the story of a patient involved in sodium selenate trials, here on The Age site.  If you're interested in participating in a Neurology trial, phone the Melbourne-based Neurology Clinical Research Facility on (03) 9076 2029.

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