A new technique has been developed for detecting amyloid, the protein which builds up in the brain causing Alzheimer's disease.
Research presented to the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease suggests that the use of a new class of biomarkers can detect amyloid - and thus potentially diagnose Alzheimer's - much earlier than was previously possible.
The luminescent conjugated oligothiophenes emit a coloured 'signal' when identifying amyloids.
The study also found that a different kind of amyloid is present among people with the APOE4 Alzheimer's gene.
Reacting to the news, the Alzheimer's Society director of research Clive Ballard said: "The development of this new approach will enable us to increase our understanding of amyloid, a key hallmark of Alzheimer's.
"This is essential if we are to progress in our ongoing search for drugs to prevent and treat this devastating condition."
The Alzheimer's Research Trust estimates that there are around 820,000 people living with dementia in the UK.
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