Alzheimer’s discovery: Experts discover how the memory-robbing disorder begins and reveal that hallmark mutations could starve brain vital energy

  • Australian researchers examined zebrafish with genes connected to Alzheimer’s
  • They found brain cells of fish with the genes had disrupted oxygen generation
  • The brain has less energy, which can impact its performance.
  • Researchers are confident they have found a driver of the disease in humans

Today scientists claimed that they have discovered the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists raised hopes for a cure.

Australian researchers believe their discovery — if proven true in human trials — may ‘enormously benefit our ageing population’.

Researchers found that gene mutations believed to be linked to increased risk could cause brain damage.

University of Adelaide scientists examined genetic mutations in early-onset Alzheimer’s-affected zebrafish.

The DNA mutations in the brain cells of fish meant that their brains used less oxygen. This resulted in their brains not being able to generate enough energy for proper functioning.  

Similar evidence on mice supported their theories. 

Lead researcher Dr Karissa Barthelson said the team are confident they have found a ‘fundamental, early driver of Alzheimer’s in humans’.

She stated that energy production was the fundamental activity of cells supporting all functions. This is especially true in brains and other highly active organs.

“If we are able to understand why oxygen is not being used and energy production works poorly, it may be possible to prevent the spread of this disease.”

Australian researchers have found what could be a key driving factor in the memory-robbing disease Alzheimer's finding genes associated with the condition disrupt how brain cells use oxygen

Australian researchers discovered a major factor that could explain the Alzheimer’s disease. The genes responsible for the disorder disrupt the way brain cells use oxygen.

The scientists used zebrafish for their study due to their ability produce a huge number of offspring which makes it easier to detect subtle genetic differences

Because of their capacity to produce large numbers offspring, scientists chose zebrafish to study subtle genetic variations.

She also stated that this would be a huge benefit to our ageing population.  

Dr Barthelson and colleagues published their findings in the journal Disease Models and Mechanisms. 

Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disorder that results in the death of nerve cells due to abnormal protein buildup.

The brain shrinks and transmitters are disrupted. 

Dr Barthelson said that the disease causes a severe deficiency in energy production.

This is the most prevalent type of dementia. It usually affects over-65s, but only one percent of cases occur among younger people.

The team of Dr Barthelson studied Zebrafish due to their large family sizes, making it easy for them to spot subtle effects.

Researchers from another team also conducted similar studies on mice, and the experts found the exact same results.  

Dr Barthelson said: ‘This reinforces our confidence that we’ve found a fundamental, early driver of Alzheimer’s in humans. 

‘It is very satisfying to have found this important common, early factor driving the development of Alzheimer’s disease.’ 

The team of researchers now plan to examine how the genes associated with Alzheimer’s impact the the energy generation of different types of brain cells. 

About 1million people in the UK have Alzheimer’s disease, with the condition being responsible for the majority of dementia cases in the country,

In the US an estimated 5million people have Alzheimer’s and it is the officially sixth leading cause of death in the country, though more recent estimates have suggested it should now be bumped up to third. 


Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive degenerative condition of the brain that causes abnormal protein buildup, can cause nerve cells to stop functioning.

The brain shrinks and transmitters are disrupted. 

The disease is the 6th most common cause of death in the United States, with more than 5 million Americans suffering from it. In Britain, it affects over 1 million.


Brain cells eventually die and the functions they provided are lost. 

This includes memory, orientation, and the ability think and reason. 

It is gradual and slow progress. 

Patients live on average for five to seven years, while others may live as long as ten years.


  • Memory loss in the short term
  • Disorientation
  • Behavior changes
  • Feeling moody
  • Problems with making phone calls or dealing with money 


  • Memory loss severe, including forgetting family members or familiar objects.
  • Anger and frustration caused by inability to understand the world. This can lead to aggression 
  • The ability to walk eventually becomes impaired.
  • You may have eating problems 
  • Many will need 24-hour nursing care.   

 Source: Alzheimer’s Association