A new study investigating an inherited form of Alzheimer's disease has found that the progression of the disease may slow once symptoms appear and do significant damage.
In the research, Professor Colin Masters from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and University of Melbourne - and colleagues in the UK and US - have found rapid neuronal damage begins 10 to 20 years before symptoms appear.
"As part of this research we have observed other changes in the brain that occur when symptoms begin to appear. There is actually a slowing of the neurodegeneration," Professor Masters said.
Autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's affects families with a genetic mutation, predisposing them to the crippling disease. These families provide crucial insight into the development of Alzheimer's because they can be identified years before symptoms develop.
The information gleaned from this group will also influence treatment offered to those living with the more common age-related version. Only about one percent of those with Alzheimer's have the genetic type of the disease.
The study is published in the prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine.