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Gut microbiome and gene editing projects share in $3 million research funding

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Gut microbiome and gene editing

Gut microbiome and gene editing projects share in $3 million research funding

 

Dementia Australia

Exploring how the gut microbiome may be key to the early diagnosis and development of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and combining gene editing technology with artificial intelligence are just two of the projects to receive funding from the Dementia Australia Research Foundation’s 2023 Grant Round.

The Dementia Australia Research Foundation today announced funding for 24 projects in the 2023 Grants Program, worth more than $3 million in total.

Macquarie University post-doctoral fellow Dr Pradeep Manuneedhi Cholan received the Race Against Dementia – Dementia Australia Research Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship to study how the gut microbiome impacts the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Established in 2020 by racing legend and Dementia Australia Patron Sir Jackie Stewart OBE’s Race Against Dementia charity and the Dementia Australia Research Foundation, the Fellowship supports early career researchers in the field of dementia prevention or treatment.

“The gut is often referred to as our ‘second brain’ as it can control our emotions, stress response and cognition. Previous research has shown that the metabolites produced by bacterial species in the gut can impact inflammation in the brain, which can either exacerbate or alleviate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr Cholan said.

“What is not known is specifically how the metabolites produced by different types of gut bacteria can regulate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease which is what I will be focusing on with this project.

“If successful, this project will pave the way for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and aid in the development of new drug treatments. It could also allow for better management of Alzheimer’s disease by analysing the gut composition of patients and providing them with lifestyle-based interventions tailored to their particular microbiome.”

Sir Jackie Stewart said Race Against Dementia prides itself on finding new ways of doing business.

“We are very pleased to welcome Pradeep to the team as his commitment and ingenuity are essential tools that will assist us to find new avenues for treatments to challenge dementia in the fullest sense,” Sir Jackie said.

Dr Caitlin Finney, from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, will receive a Dementia Research Community Project Grant for a project that combines artificial intelligence and gene editing technology to develop better targeted treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We know that genetic differences in our DNA might play a role in causing Alzheimer’s disease. Using a type of artificial intelligence called supervised machine learning, we have identified two genetic mutations that show up commonly in people living with late onset Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr Finney said.

“What this grant will enable us to do is to collect skin samples from people living with Alzheimer’s disease and use these cells to grow mini-brains in the lab. Using a gene editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9, we will be able to insert and remove the genetic mutations we have identified.

“This will allow us to learn new ways to keep our brains healthy as we get older. This knowledge can also help clinicians treat Alzheimer’s disease in a personalised way, where we correct the effects of DNA mutations with targeted treatments. If we find the real reasons why Alzheimer’s disease develops, we may even be able to prevent it from starting.”

Dementia Australia Research Foundation Chair Professor Graeme Samuel AC congratulated all successful 2023 grant recipients.

“The diversity of projects selected shows we have a very exciting future for dementia research,” Professor Samuel said.

“With dementia affecting almost 50 million people worldwide, research into dementia is now more urgent than ever.”

The Dementia Australia Research Foundation acknowledges the generosity of donors who contribute each and every year to support dementia research and the grants program. Since the Dementia Grants Program started in 2000, over $31 million in funding has supported more than 380 projects.

The full list of grant recipients is available here.

The Dementia Australia Research Foundation is the research arm of Dementia Australia, which provides funding to support new and emerging dementia researchers.

For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit here.

 

For more National Australia News, visit here.

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Time for action on a NSW Autism Strategy

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Time for action on a NSW Autism Strategy

 

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin says she welcomes the Australian Government’s recent release of the Draft NSW Autism Strategy.

Ms Saffin says “it provides the State and Territory governments with the opportunity to engage with the Draft National Autism Strategy.

“We need a NSW Autism Strategy and I have had discussions with the relevant Minister in the Minns Labor Government, Kate Washington,” Ms Saffin says.

“I raised the importance of an autism strategy in the NSW Parliament last year. South Australia is way ahead of us.  Now we have the Draft National Autism Strategy, we need to seize the momentum and get a New South Wales strategy to break down barriers for autistic children and adults and their families.”

President of the Northern Rivers Autism Association Micheal Lynch has teamed up with Business NSW Northern Rivers Regional Director Jane Laverty to co-host an Autism@Work business luncheon at the Ballina RSL Auditorium from noon today (Tuesday, 9 April).

The event, titled Embracing a Neurodiverse Workforce, celebrates Autism Awareness Month and guest speaker will be former dual-code international for rugby league and rugby union Mat Rogers.

Ms Saffin says she will be an apology as she is recovering from Covid.

“A panel of speakers for today’s event is sure to discuss the Draft National Autism Strategy,” Ms Saffin says.

“It is clear from the draft that the states and territories and Federal Government need to work together because the strategy covers polices across both levels of government.

“The states have primary responsibility for the key areas of education, health, justice and housing.

“It is the states that have responsibility for pre-schools for example, where children are at critical age for early intervention which can make a huge difference.

“This is an opportunity for National Cabinet to tackle the crossover of responsibilities and ensure that this is an effective, properly funded strategy without gaps for people to slip through.

“Being in a rural or regional area can add another layer of disadvantage, so it is important that people from this region give their feedback to the national strategy.”

For more information on the Draft National Autism Strategy and to give feedback, visit here.

 

For more health news, click here.

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AI-Powered MedTech Breakthrough: CSIRO and Singular Health Unveil Revolutionary Spinal Vertebrae Segmentation Technology

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An example of spinal segmentation software. CSIRO

AI-Powered MedTech Breakthrough: CSIRO and Singular Health Unveil Revolutionary Spinal Vertebrae Segmentation Technology

 

A groundbreaking AI-powered medical technology, developed through collaboration between CSIRO‘s Data61 and Australian Medical Imaging Company Singular Health, swiftly segments spinal vertebrae with an impressive 95% accuracy rate within a mere two minutes. This innovation holds the promise of revolutionising surgical planning and facilitating the design of customised implants for medical professionals.

Traditionally, the segmentation of spinal vertebrae in computerised tomography (CT) scans has demanded extensive manual labour, involving countless hours of meticulous identification and markups. However, the advent of AI automation heralds a transformative shift in this arduous process, significantly reducing time and effort while ensuring exceptional segmentation precision and localisation accuracy, as elucidated by Dr. Dadong Wang, Research Lead at Data61.

Singular Health’s Executive Director of Innovation, Dr. Guan Tay, underscores the game-changing potential of this automated segmentation technology. By integrating AI-driven automation into the segmentation process, medical professionals will now only need to make minor adjustments and validate the software’s outputs. This semi-automated approach empowers surgeons and radiologists to fine-tune the results according to their interpretations, ensuring meticulous compliance with image analysis standards while substantially streamlining processing time.

The utilisation of artificial intelligence in medical imaging, particularly in radiology, stands poised to profoundly reshape workflow dynamics for radiologists.

Leveraging a comprehensive dataset comprising over 200 CT scans of labelled data, the Data61 team meticulously explored various AI models and pre-processing techniques to achieve precise instance segmentation, labelling, surface meshing, and spatial localisation of individual vertebrae.

Dr. Wang elaborates on the AI development process, highlighting the adaptation of deep learning-based instance segmentation methodologies such as nnUNET, SC-NET, and Dense-NET. These models were rigorously trained using the VerSe’2020 dataset, comprising 100 CT scans of spines from individuals spanning diverse age groups and genders. Subsequently, the trained models underwent rigorous testing on an additional 100 CT scans, generating segmented labels of the spine, individual vertebrae, spatial coordinates, and vertebra identification.

The integration of this cutting-edge technology into Singular Health’s MedVR software represents a significant milestone, offering a transformative solution for hospitals, clinicians, educational institutions, and universities alike. This milestone achievement was made possible through the CSIRO Kick–Start initiative, which extends funding and support to innovative Australian start-ups and small businesses, granting access to CSIRO’s unparalleled research and development (R&D) expertise and capabilities.

 

For more health news, click here.

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Northern Rivers Business Community gets behind Autism Awareness Month

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Autism Awareness Month

Northern Rivers Business Community gets behind Autism Awareness Month

 

Aprils is National Autism Awareness Month where recognition raises awareness about autism acceptance and promotes inclusion and connectedness for people with autism.  Social and community support can help people with autism achieve optimal health and reach their full potential.

Business NSW Northern Rivers is co-hosting the Autism@Work Business Luncheon with the Northern Rivers Autism Association on Tuesday 9 April 2024 in Ballina as part of Autism Awareness Month and the official launch of the Northern Rivers Autism Association.

“Micheal Lynch, Chair of the Association has been working tirelessly with our team on this event and we hope to demonstrate the support we can put behind such a great initiative to embrace a neurodiverse workforce in our region.”  Said Jane Laverty, Regional Director Business NSW

The luncheon will feature guest speaker, Mat Rogers a dual code international with a prominent career in both rugby league and union.  After a stella career representing Queensland, the Kangaroo’s and the Wallabies, Mat finished his career back in the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans, retiring in 2011.

With his wife, Chloe Maxwell, Mat is devoted to the charity they established, 4ASDKIDS, after discovering their son was autistic, so they could help other families with autistic children.

“We are excited to have Mat lead the conversation along with an expert panel sharing thoughts on the amazing value we can bring to our businesses and employees with a neurodiverse workforce and inclusive workplaces.”  Mrs Laverty said.

“This is going to be an inspiring event and an opportunity for Micheal Lynch to share his vision for the Association.  The Northern Rivers business community is looking forward to being part of this month of awareness raising and promoting inclusion and acceptance.

The expert panel includes:

  • Luke Terry, CEO of Whitebox Enterprises/Beacon Laundry (located in Bangalow and newly formed social enterprise)
  • Andrew Cashin, Professor of Autism and Intellectual Disability with Southern Cross University
  • Samantha Albertini, Senior Manager People & Culture with Social Futures
  • Jodi Rogers, locally based counsellor (Birds & Bees) who has just authored a book called Unique – what Autism Can Teach Us about Difference, Connection and Belonging

“Most of us know someone on the spectrum and know that autism can be a superpower.  With more than ¾ of Australians on the spectrum being young (between 5 and 24) it is important that we look at how our workplaces can adapt for neurodiverse people and enable greater inclusivity.”

 

For more health news, click here.

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