A new study conducted by scientists in Australia has pinpointed the exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease and experts believe this discovery could lead to a potential new therapy that addresses the underlying cause of the ailment within five years.

The researchers have suggested that the cause of Alzheimer’s is the synergistic activity of certain molecules found in the brain. By blocking the interaction between these molecules, Alzheimer's can be stopped at the origination stage itself, they say.

The team led by Jurgen Gotz at the Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Research Institute discovered that the brain-wasting disease was caused by the interaction of two proteins in an otherwise normally functioning brain.

These protein molecules, found in all people, remain rather harmless in otherwise healthy people and facilitate certain neuronal functions. However, in at the onset of Alzheimer's, the molecules start acting in cohort resulting in the memory stealing disease.

Gotz and his team could successfully prevent the interaction by introducing other proteins into brains cells through injections. "We have shown we can prevent the development of Alzheimer's and that's never been done before," he says.

The next step is to develop compounds that are easier to administer, either orally or intravenously. Two abnormal structures called plaques and tangles are prime suspects in damaging and killing nerve cells in Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers, who published their report in the science journal Cell, believe they would be able to bring the new treatment to market in about five years. The process might take that long because the potential drug targets the underlying biology of the disease and not the symptoms which is usually the case with available medicines.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. It is the most common cause of dementia among older people.

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Experts suggest that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s.