A research project paving the way for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

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Could the key to early detection and the development of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease be in our stomach?

That’s the question that Dr Pradeep Manuneedhi Cholan from Macquarie University is investigating after receiving a grant from the Dementia Australia Research Foundation to examine how the gut microbiome impacts the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

“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,” Dr Cholan said.  

This article was originally published by our friends at Dementia Australia.

What is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome refers to the microorganisms, such as bacteria, that live in the human gut.

Dr Cholan said that the gut is often referred to as our ‘second brain’ as it can control 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.”


Dr Cholan will transplant faecal matter from people living with Alzheimer’s disease into zebrafish and observe their brain cells and gut as well as monitor their behaviour.    

“Zebrafish are transparent when young, which makes it easy for researchers to observe their cells, which are fluorescent,” Dr Cholan said.  

“By observing these glowing cells researchers can see, in real time, how the bacteria affect inflammation in the gut and brain.

As well as paving the way for early diagnosis and the development of new drug treatments Dr Cholan said the research project could have other benefits.

“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.”

Fellowship funded

Dr Cholan received the Race Against Dementia – Dementia Australia Research Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship to fund his research project.

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.

If you would like to be involved in a research project into dementia, you can find all studies that are currently recruiting participants on the Dementia Australia website.

The Dementia Australia Research Foundation relies on financial support from generous individuals and organisations committed to investment in dementia research.  

If you would like to help us to support more research into dementia with projects just like this one, you can donate to dementia research

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