Scientists say they have identified a key contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
A fragment of ribonucleic acid (RNA) plays a part in regulating inflammation and the progression of the condition, according to a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The tiny piece of RNA, known as miRNA-146a, was previously thought to be no more than a by-product of the disease.
Dr Walter Lukiw, lead author of the study, said the primary goal of the research is to "further our understanding of the molecular biology and genetic mechanisms associated with Alzheimer's disease and to advance the design of therapeutic strategies to counteract this common and tragic neurological disorder".
Another US research team has suggested it has identified a method which can enable Alzheimer's drugs to more easily reach those parts of the brain where they are most needed.
The scientists from St Louis University said they may have discovered how to "turn off" the gatekeeper which exists at the blood-brain barrier and prevents foreign substances - including potentially helpful drugs - from entering the brain.
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