Quick Project Snapshot

Biomarker discovery for Neurodegenerative disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating slow neurodegenerative disease that is the leading cause of dementia. This disease is characterized by a slow decline in cognitive function, with the greatest risk factor for the disease being age.  Currently, the main diagnostic for Alzheimer’s disease is post-mortem, which is clearly inadequate in determining appropriate treatment regimens for elderly patients presenting with dementia.  The second best method for diagnosing the form of dementia is the use of radiolabeled Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography (PIB-PET) imaging of the formation of amyloid plaques in human brain tissue.  This has its own set of limitations, the primary issue being that it is very expensive to conduct at around $3000 per test, the second being that the radioisotopes used for the test are very shot-lived, requiring hospitals to house extensive infrastructure to generate the required labeled compounds.  The imaging techniques have however indicated that there are pathological changes in brain tissue in neurodegenerative diseases that occur up to 10 years prior to the onset of the cognitive symptoms of the disease.  We, and others, believe that these changes should be reflected in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood of Alzheimer’s disease patients.  Thus, projects in this area are focused on investigating the changes in protein, and other macromolecule, levels in these fluids in the hope of identifying a cheap and accurate blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.   Techniques commonly applied include the fractionation of blood, various methods for depleting abundant proteins, 2D DIGE, and mass spectrometry.

Dr Blaine Roberts

Neuroproteomics and Metalloproteomics Laboratory

The Neuroproteomics and Metalloproteomics Laboratory focuses on using proteomics to understand Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  The group has a particular interest in understanding the role of metals in biology and has developed new proteomic technologies to measure metalloproteins. Further, this group is using proteomics to characterize new blood borne biomarkers for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

All Projects by this Lab

Biomarker discovery for Neurodegenerative diseaseUnderstanding the natural biology of Aß peptides in human brainWhat causes a neuron to die? Investigating the essential role of selenium nutrition in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’sBioanalytical tools to investigate the role of metalloproteins in Alzheimer’s disease and Motor Neuron Disease


Scientists in the Neurodegeneration division interrogate how neurones live, die and can be rescued to improve brain function in degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Motor Neuron Diseases. There is no effective treatment for Motor Neurone Disease and the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease is rising alarmingly in our aging community. Gene abnormalities, energy deprivation, toxic rubbish accumulation and inflammation all contribute to a toxic environment for brain cells. Our teams study these events in animal models and cultured cells, with a view to translating knowledge into new therapies for human patients.

All Labs that operate in this Division

Atomic Pathology LaboratoryCreutzfeldt Jakob Disease Clinical Research GroupMolecular Gerontology LaboratoryMotor Neurone Disease LaboratoryNational Dementia Diagnostics LaboratoryNeurochemistry of Metal IonsNeurogenesis and Neural Transplantation LaboratoryNeuropathology and Neurodegeneration LaboratoryNeuroproteomics and Metalloproteomics LaboratoryNeurotherapeutics LaboratoryParkinson's Disease LaboratoryPre-clinical Parkinson’s Disease Research LaboratoryPresynaptic Physiology Stem Cells and Neural Development LaboratorySteroid Neurobiology LaboratorySynaptic Neurobiology LaboratoryThe Australian Imaging Biomarker and Lifestyle Study (AIBL)