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Scientists Identity Protein That May Play Role in Alzheimer's Disease

FILE - Patients with Alzheimer's and dementia dance inside the Alzheimer Foundation in Mexico City, April 19, 2012.

Scientists have identified a protein they say may play a big part in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Reporting in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers said autopsies on the brains of some Alzheimer's patients have shown high levels of a protein called GPR3. Experiments in which the protein is eliminated in mice with the disease showed improvement in the animals' condition.

But the doctors said much more research was needed to see whether the same result could be reached in humans.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of a condition known as dementia in which the brain's cognitive and memory functions degenerate.

There is no cure for the disease, and the number of cases is expected to grow as the global population ages.