I don't suppose you'd expect me to be talking about Alzheimer's disease on a herpes website. But the virus behind cold sores may also be the major cause of insoluble protein plaques that are typically found in the brains of Alzheimer's disease sufferers. University of Manchester researchers believe that the herpes simplex virus or HSV1 may be a significant factor in developing this debilitating disease. They also believe that using anti-viral medications like acyclovir, which is already used to treat cold sores and HSV2, may hold a dramatic key in preventing or treating Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers discovered HSV1 DNA located in plaque of 90% of the Alzheimer's patients. In fact, most of the viral DNA is located in the beta amyloid of the amyloid plaque. These findings confirm to the researchers the implication that HSV1 is a major contributor to the formation of amyloid deposits and plaques and Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, being elderly, having specific genetic factors and then having HSV1 may be a huge triple threat. One of the lead researchers offered the following:
"We suggest that HSV1 enters the brain in the elderly as their immune systems decline and then establishes a dormant infection from which it is repeatedly activated by events such as stress, immunosuppression, and various infections. The ensuing active HSV1 infection causes severe damage in brain cells, most of which die and then disintegrate, thereby releasing amyloid aggregates which develop into amyloid plaques after other components of dying cells are deposited on them."
So the researchers have concluded that introducing a drug like Acyclovir could help to arrest the disease and inhibit the development of damaging processes like the plaque. Clinical trials are set to explore this theory.
Published On: December 11, 2008