Research suggests that the disrupted metabolism of sugar, fat and calcium is part of the process that causes the death of neurons in Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have shown how important parts of the nerve cell that are involved in the cell's energy metabolism operate in the early stages of the disease.
These results shed new light on how neuronal metabolism could relate to the development of the disease.
"It's urgent that we find out what causes neuronal death if we're to develop molecules that check the disease," said Maria Ankarcrona, researcher at the Karolinska Institutet, in a statement.
"In the long run we might be able to produce a drug that can arrest the progress of the disease at a stage when the patient is still able to manage their daily lives. If we can extend that period by a number of years, we'd have made great gains. Today there are no drugs that affect the actual disease process."
The researchers conducted their studies on mice bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. They also studied nerve cells from deceased Alzheimer's patients and neurons cultivated in the laboratory.