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Frontotemporal Dementia patient with doctor
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Frontier FTD research clinic 

Developing treatments for frontotemporal dementia
Frontier specialises in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and related diseases. Our clinic is integrated with the Frontier research program, where researchers regularly offer patients access to clinical trials connected with the latest research in FTD.

About the clinic

Our clinic conducts research into Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the second most common degenerative disease causing dementia in younger adults. The age of onset is typically in the 50s or 60s but can be as young as 30. The disease is sometimes called frontotemporal lobar degeneration.  To learn more about the symptoms, prognosis and diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia, download the Younger Onset Dementia booklet from the Alzheimer's Australia website.

Our Services

We regularly run clinical trials connected with the latest research in FTD. Our clinic offers people diagnosed with these disorders access to these trials.  If you have been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, or care for someone who has, you have an important role to play in our research. By working with our dedicated team, you can help us develop new treatments for FTD and find out more about this condition and its causes. A list of our current open research studies can be found below. More detailed information about our research program can be found on our research page.

Finding a cure for FTD is contingent on research that examines brain tissue. FTD is a very unique condition. Unlike other neurodegenerative diseases, or illnesses in other parts of the body, the cells in the brain of someone with FTD change in ways that we cannot examine while they’re alive. What’s more, most of what we already know about the causes of FTD is because of research carried out on post-mortem brain tissue.

For these reasons, we encourage the FTD community to consider donating their brain to the Frontier Brain Donor Program. It is fundamental to advancing our understanding and therefore treatment of FTD. Your gift could benefit many lives in the future

Participate in our research

1.     A referral from a neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist who suspects a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), including behavioural variant FTD (bvFTD), semantic dementia (SD), progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA), logopenic progressive aphasia (LPA), corticobasal syndrome (CBS) or progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).  We also involve people who have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease in our research.

2.     To be in the relatively early stages of the disease; that is:

  • living at home
  • able to communicate
  • managing basic self-care activities
  • able to walk unaided.

3.     Have high-level proficiency in English.

4.     Have no other major neurological or psychological disorders such as major stroke, severe brain injury, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

To compare patients with FTD to healthy adults, we also need volunteers without FTD to participate in our trials. To get involved, please email frontier@sydney.edu.au.

If you participate in one of our studies, you may:

  • Be interviewed about your medical history, education and occupational background
  • Complete cognitive tests on memory, language skills and thinking abilities
  • Have your brain scanned via MRI (magnetic resonance imagining), a painless, non-invasive procedure that generates high-quality images of the brain.

Caring for someone with frontotemporal dementia?

Dementia Australia also offers information, advice and support options for people living with any type of dementia and their families and carers.

We regularly share resources via Facebook and Twitter, and encourage families to contact the Australian Frontotemporal Dementia Association (AFTDA). The association seeks to educate physicians and other health professionals on FTD and raise general public awareness of the condition. It is working towards a disease registry for FTD that will provide more accurate data on its incidence in Australia.

The FTD Toolkit provided by the Eastern Cognitive Disorders Clinic in Melbourne is another valuable resource.


Currently Recruiting Trials

For more information on our research studies or for information on how to participate, please contact us at frontier@sydney.edu.au

We are currently conducting studies in

  • Apathy in dementia
  • Social cognition and memory changes in frontotemporal dementia
  • Progression of structural and functional brain changes in frontotemporal dementia metabolic changes in FTD
  • Severity rating scales - how FTD symptoms change over time
  • Neuropathology in frontotemporal dementia -  cellular changes
  • Clinical, imaging and biological markers for early disease identification
  • Genetics
  • Cognition in motor neurone disease, a condition closely related to frontotemporal dementia
  • The impact of FTD on those living with the condition, their carers and family members developing effective support interventions for carers and families.

FTD Global Marathon

Frontier researchers participated in the 2020 global FTD marathon, a free, day-long event for people living with dementia and health care providers.