Korean scientists have found in early tests that a molecule can clear Alzheimer’s plaques from the brains of mice and improve learning and memory.
It is not yet clearly understood as to how exactly it gets rid of the abnormal build-up.
Dementia experts say that the small Nature Communications study hints at a way to tackle the disease even once it is in full swing.
But there is no proof the same method would work on people – it may require many more years of animal trials before trying on humans.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Treatments can lessen the symptoms, but scientists are looking for ways to prevent, halt or reverse the disease.
As dementia progresses, more plaques (clumps of abnormal proteins and chemicals) form in the brain and healthy brain cells die off.
Scientists say that preventing or removing the plaques might help, and many drug candidates are in development.
Some drugs still being tested appear to stop the plaques from forming – but that is if it is taken enough before the disease has advanced.
However, the South Korean researchers believe they may have found a molecule, called EPPS, which could work even if plaques have already formed.