Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is a degenerative brain condition, characterised by memory loss and increasingly impaired cognitive function. It is most commonly diagnosed in people over 65 years of age, although an early-onset variant may occur earlier.

The cost of Alzheimer’s disease in Australia is estimated at more than $3.6 billion per year. As our society ages, the burden of the disease on our society is increasing.

The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known, but there are a number of potential factors under investigation. The disease is characterized by the presence of plaques in the brain, which are principally derived from a protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP).

The long-term aim of Alzheimer’s disease research at SVI is to determine the structure of APP in order to understand its normal physiological function as a basis for structure-based drug design of anti-Alzheimer's drugs.

Along with colleagues at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes, researchers in SVI’s Structural Biology Unit have identified a number of drugs which, based on their potential to bind to and inhibit a specific cellular receptor called IRAP, have potential to be enhancers of memory, and thus may represent a novel treatment for dementia.

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