The team believes the discovery could help in the development of drugs to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

The technique, published in Nature Methods on Monday, is the first of its kind to rapidly identify and track the location of diseased proteins inside cells.

It was developed by Dr Danny Hatters and his team at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne.

It uses a flow cytometer to track protein clusters in cells and these can be recovered for further study – neither of which has been possible before.

“Being able to identify locations of diseased proteins in cells enables drugs to be developed to target different stages of disease development,” Dr Hatters said.

He said it was the first time researchers were able to understand how proteins cluster and cause damage in diseases like Alzheimer’s.

It also offers hope in improving treatments for a range of neurological and other conditions, he said.

“No drugs at this stage can stop the clustering process in Huntington’s disease,” he said.

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