The onset of Alzheimer’s disease could be delayed by a molecule that occurs naturally in humans, research suggests.

The study in mice showed that the “housekeeping” molecule put the brakes on a runaway process in the brain that leads to the most common form of dementia.

The substance works by slowing the accumulation of sticky clumps of protein in the brain, which typically appear years before symptoms such as memory loss become apparent in patients.

Although the molecule tested would be difficult to convert into a drug for use in humans, the scientists said, the findings prove that the cycle that leads to Alzheimer’s devastating impact on memory and personality can be interrupted.

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