Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in the US have identified a new therapeutic target which could help prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The team found that neutral sphingomyelinase, a protein present in the brain, causes the death of neurons and memory loss when activated.

They were also able to prevent neuron death by inhibiting the neutral sphingomyelinase using a chemical inhibitor and a small molecule inhibitor.

Lead investigator Kalipada Pahan said that understanding the disease process is important in identifying effective approaches.

”If we can develop and test a clinical medication that can target the neutral sphingomyelinase, we may be able to halt memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease patients,” Pahan added.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Alzheimer’s Association.