A new drug to prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease could be tested on patients within six years, according to researchers at Lancaster University.
The Lancashire team is part of a 14.6m euro international project working to find a cure for the disease.
The new drug blocks the protein plaques produced by Alzheimer's.
It could have an enormous impact on the early diagnosis and treatment, the university said. The disease affects 750,000 people in the UK.
The drug would stop the disease before it caused irreversible brain damage.
"When the disease is diagnosed, the damage is already done," Prof David Allsop said.
"We can now now detect the disease with quite a degree of certainty, even before the clinical symptoms emerge.
"So in the future we can detect it early on and treat it even before the memory impairment develops to the stage we call Alzheimer's disease."
He added that the cost of caring for someone with Alzheimer's was enormous, but the cost of developing treatments was "peanuts compared with the amount of money saved".
The symptoms of Alzheimer's include a gradual loss of memory and the ability to think clearly, for some there may be a change in personality.
People with severe Alzheimer's may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as dressing, washing and eating. As time passes they may not recognise people or their surroundings.