Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.  Dementia is a serious loss of mental capacity that can result in confusion and permanent loss of memory.  It is the third largest cause of death in Australia*. Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of ageing, but a degenerative illness that impairs mental functions affecting memory, personality and intellect.

There were 245,400 people with dementia in Australia in 2009.  Unless something changes, Access Economics predicts that this will rise to around 1.1 million people by 2050. Most of us know someone personally who has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, but some famous people who have experienced it include Ronald Reagan, Iris Murdoch and Hazel Hawke.

Symptoms and Causes

People with Alzheimer's disease usually deteriorate gradually, and the symptoms expressed will differ from one person to another.


Early Symptoms include Late Symptoms include


Forgetting major events and/or names of loved ones

Unusual irritability

Inability to care for one's self or home


Inability to manage daily responsbilities

Impaired decision making

Personality changes, sometimes including aggression


Difficulties sleeping, using the toilet and eating


Alzheimer's disease occurs when a protein called amyloid accumulates in the brain.  Brain cells are damaged when this protein reacts with copper and iron, which are abundant in the brain, in a chemical reaction similar to rusting.  The affected brain cells no longer effectively transmit information. 

A4 Trial

The A4 study is investigating a new drug intervention that may reduce the impact of a protein known as "amyloid" or "beta amyloid" plaques in the brain. Scientists believe that accumulation of amyloid in the brain may play a key role in the eventual development of AD-related memory loss. 

The A4 anti-amyloid investigational drug targets amyloid build-up in the brain with the aim of slowing memory loss associated with the development of AD. 

View labs and projects

Useful Information

If you are seeking more information on living with Alzheimer's disease please follow the link below.

Alzheimer's Australia