Impressive new research led by scientists at UT Southwestern, has discovered the earliest point in a neurodegenerative process that is thought to lead to dementia. The researchers describe the discovery as like finding the “Big Bang” of Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s hoped the work leads to new treatments and ways to detect the disease before major symptoms take hold.

This new research focuses on a different protein, called tau. These tau proteins have been found to form abnormal clumps in the brain, called neurofibrillary tangles, which can accumulate and kill neurons. Some researchers hypothesize that this is actually the primary causative source of Alzheimer’s disease.