A new study into how Alzheimer's disease develops in the brain highlights the need to identify people at risk of dementia early on, the authors claim.
In a research paper published in Biological Psychiatry, a team of researchers found that the clumps or "plaques" of amyloid beta protein that form in the brain are not the primary cause of the brain nerve-cell destruction which causes dementia.
Soluble proteins within these plaques are what do most of the damage, the authors claim.
This proves that Alzheimer's begins quietly and goes clinically undetected, slowly eroding brain networks, highlighting the need for early detection of the disease, according to the study's lead author Dr Yvette Sheline, professor of psychiatry and radiology at Washington University.
This results of the study were a step forward for researchers in understanding the disruption in brain functioning associated with Alzheimer's, Dr Sheline added.
According to the Alzheimer's Research Trust, there are around 820,000 people living with dementia in the UK and Alzheimer's disease makes up around two-thirds of these cases.
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