Christmas shoppers who get their kicks at the Brain Foundation Annual Christmas Fair are directly supporting research into diseases of the brain, such as dementia.
Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians and the second leading cause of death in this country, according to national peak body Dementia Australia.
It’s a broad term used to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning.
Dementia contributes to 5.4 per cent of all deaths in males and 10.6 per cent of all deaths in females each year.
Currently there is no single test that can accurately diagnose the disease.
Funds raised at the Annual Christmas Fair, to be held at the Tamworth Racecourse this Sunday, will be directly passed on to Australian research technologist Dr Zac Chatterton.
Dr Chatterton is intent on finding a way to diagnose dementia using a simple blood test.
“Dementia is poised to represent one of the most significant health concerns our society will face in the coming decades,” Dr Chatterton said.
“The focus of my research is on developing a blood based test that can identify the degeneration of the brain in dementia patients.
“Our test is similar to liquid biopsies that are revolutionising the diagnosis and disease monitoring of cancer.
“Such a test has the potential to identify the earliest stages of brain volume loss, even before the onset of symptoms, allowing patients to receive treatment before they’ve noticed any functional changes.”
Dr Chatterton explained what the test might look like in the future.
“It will be cheap and easy enough to administer on a population level by a local GP at regular check-ups,” he said.
“The funds I’ve received from the Christmas Fair at Tamworth will help with the next step of the research, which is to apply what I’ve learnt to a patient sample,” Dr Chatterton said.
“I’m very grateful to the people of Tamworth for supporting the Fair.”
The Christmas Fair is at the Tamworth Racecourse this Sunday, November 19, from 9am to 3pm.
Stalls, live music, food, and kids’ entertainment.
Entry is $3, under 12 years free.