Scientists have established a link between inflammation and Alzheimer's disease, giving hope that existing treatments could be used to treat the condition.
A joint venture between researchers in the US and Germany and led by Dr Douglas Golenbock, it was discovered that the beta amyloids present cause an element in the brain to produce NLRP3, which in turn releases an inflammatory cytokine known as IL-1B.
IL-1B causes inflammation in the body during infection and is said to be integral in the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr Golenbock said: "It’s possible that drugs that block NLRP3 or IL-1B - including some of which are already in clinical trials or on the market - switch might provide some benefit."
However, Dr Golenbock was keen to stress that the researchers now need to distinguish how much IL-1B can be blocked. He said that a treatment that stopped 90 per cent of IL-1B reaching the brain would not be enough to prevent Alzheimer's.