Researchers believe a protein known as SORLA could be used to treat patients with Alzheimer's disease following positive tests on mice.
Led by professors Virginie Buggia-Prevot and Gopal Thinakaran at the University of Chicago, the study looked into how high levels of SORLA in the brain could work to reduce amyloid plaques.
Amyloid itself is a protein that is common in the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers. It occurs when a larger protein, called APP, is broken up into smaller pieces.
Previous studies have found that people with cognitive condition tend to have lower levels of SORLA, suggesting that the protein plays a role in the processing of APP and limits the build-up of amyloid.
For this study, the team bred mice to have high levels of SORLA in their brains. They then assessed how much amyloid built up over time and compared the results to mice which were born with normal amounts of SORLA.
Across the board, mice with high amounts of SORLA were found to have lower levels of amyloid.
The team then went one step further and tested the impact of adding SORLA to the brains of mice which already had a significant build-up of amyloid. Again their findings were pleasing, with SORLA appearing to bind and breakdown Amyloid inside cells.
Dr Laura Phipps of the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: "This study in mice suggests that targeting the SORLA protein could be a possible approach for the treatment for Alzheimer’s.
"While findings in mice do not always hold true in people, this kind of study provides an important basis to build on in the search for new treatments."
She added that the findings must be capitalised on and moved to clinic trials as quickly as possible.
There are currently around 820,000 people living with some form of dementia in the UK and around half of that number have Alzheimer's Disease.
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