Alzheimer's patients often lose their sense of smell in the early stages of the disease.
In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers explain that this could be due to a protein, rather than plaques, as it was originally believed.
The plaques seen in Alzheimer's disease are primarily derived from amyloid precursor protein (APP).
Scientists found that APP alone could be responsible for the death of the nerve cells in the nose, even without the presence of the plaques.
"Deficits in odour detection and discrimination are among the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, suggesting that the sense of smell can potentially serve as a 'canary in the coal mine' for early diagnosis of the disease," said study leader Leonardo Belluscio.
Meanwhile, a lack of sleep could potentially heighten the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to research published in journal Neurology.
Find out more about Alzheimer's disease care at Barchester homes