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