Scientists at Bristol University have made an important discovery, which could help in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers have found the enzyme called endothelin converting enzyme-2 (ECE-2), may cause the blood flow in the brain to drop and therefore cause the disease to worsen.
"Our findings raise the possibility that drugs that can block the actions of endothelin-1 and which are already licensed for treating other diseases, may also be of benefit for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease," said Jennifer Palmer from the university's Dementia Research Group.
In a normal brain, blood flow responds to nerve cell activity. If this activity increases, so does the supply of blood that is needed to meet the extra demand for nutrients such as glucose and oxygen.
If this demand is not met, as can happen in Alzheimer's disease, the nerve cells may not function normally and may eventually die.
The study has been published in the July issue of the American Journal of Pathology.