A new research has found that people carrying the mutant version of a gene crucial to developing Alzheimer’s disease are less likely to suffer from the devastating form of dementia.
Scientists say copying the protein the mutant produces could be the next step in fighting the condition, which affects thousands of people.
The findings, published in Nature, have been hailed a “major advance” in the fight against Alzheimer’s although doctors warned treatments might take years to develop, the Daily Express reported.
The normal version of the gene makes a chemical, which stops nerve cells from communicating, leading to classic symptoms including memory loss and speech problems.
But researchers at deCODE Genetics, in Reykjavik, Iceland, found that healthy patients aged between 80 and 100 with the variant version of the gene have better memory and speech.
Chief executive Dr Kari Stefansson said the findings support current theories that targeting the gene with drugs may prevent dementia.