It seems too good to be true: a treatment for the brain-wasting disease Alzheimer’s that doctors could be prescribing in just five years’ time.

But it is a prospect that researchers at Sydney University are holding out to the 250,000 Australians who have contracted what is the country’s most common form of dementia.

The scientists, working under Jurgen Gotz at the university’s Brain and Mind Researcher Institute, claim the interaction of two proteins in an otherwise healthy brain cell is the origin of Alzheimer’s.

In experiments with mice, the team stopped the interaction by introducing other proteins into brains cells through injections.

“We’ve shown we can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s and that’s never been done before,” Dr. Gotz said. “The next step is to develop compounds that are easier to administer, either orally or intravenously. We could have treatments in five years because this is targeting the underlying biology of the disease — not the symptoms.” The research paper is published in the journal Cell.