Herpes Simplex a Major Contributor to Alzheimer’s Disease?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Herpes" by LEONARDO DASILVA is licensed under CC BY 2.0Prof Ruth Itzhaki PhD
Emeritus Professor
Division of Neuroscience & Experimental Psychology
The University of Manchester

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Over 30 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and unfortunately, this figure will rise as longevity increases, so the need for effective treatments is extremely urgent. Current treatments, at best, alleviate symptoms but do not prevent further deterioration. Our research has strongly implicated a common virus in the development of the disease, indicating a direct route to treatment: very effective and safe antiviral agents are available to combat the virus and thus to treat AD patients. They indicate also the future possibility of preventing the disease by vaccination against the virus in infancy.

The virus implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), is the one that causes cold sores. It infects most humans in infancy and thereafter remains lifelong in the body in latent (i.e., dormant) form within the peripheral nervous system (PNS – the part other than the brain and the spinal cord). Occasionally, if the person is stressed, the virus becomes activated and in some people it then causes cold sores.  Continue reading

US Task Force Recommends Against Routine Screening for Herpes Simplex

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ann Kurth, Ph.D., C.N.M., R.N.

Dr. Ann Kurth


MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by one of two subtypes of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2). The condition is common in the United States, as the CDC estimates that almost one in six people between the ages of 14 and 49 are afflicted.

Unfortunately, there are no good screening tests for herpes and it cannot be cured. After a systematic review of the evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force determined that, for adolescents and adults who have no signs or symptoms, including pregnant women, the harms of screening for genital herpes outweigh the benefits. These harms include high rates of false-positive screening tests, potential concerns around unnecessary antiviral medication use, and anxiety and relationship issues related to diagnosis. Additionally, the benefits of screening proved small, in part because early identification and treatment do not alter the course of the condition.

In the end, due to the lack of benefits in the face of serious harms, the Task Force recommended against routine serologic screening for genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection.

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New Compound May Suppress Resistant Herpes Simplex

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professors Lynda A. Morrison, Ph.D. and John E. Tavis, Ph.D.
Dept. of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
St. Louis, MO 63104

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: A number of viruses use enzymes in the nucleotidyl transferase superfamily (NTS) to carry out their genome replication. These enzymes include the RNaseH and integrase of HIV and the RNaseH of hepatitis B virus (HBV). Herpesviruses also encode proteins with functions that are consistent with NTS enzymes. We therefore tested compounds known or suspected to inhibit the HBV RNaseH for their capacity to reduce herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1 and HSV-2 in cell culture assays. We found that certain compounds from several different chemical families could inhibit HSV replication up to 1 million-fold, and were effective down to concentrations that are already in the same range as existing anti-herpesvirus drugs. Many of the same compounds that inhibited HSV-1 and HSV-2 also inhibited another human herpesvirus, cytomegalovirus. Importantly, we showed that these new inhibitory compounds have a different mechanism of action than acyclovir, a nucleoside analog that is the standard of care. In addition, the new compounds we identified could inhibit the replication of acyclovir-resistant HSV-1 and HSV-2.
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