Do Germs Cause Alzheimer’s?
The root cause of Alzheimer’s – the devastating, typically fatal condition that currently denies more than 5 million Americans their cognition and memory -- has long been debated in scientific circles.
In all the discussion, one theory has been dismissed as bizarre and outlandish. It’s the idea that the disease may be caused by tiny brain-infecting microbes. But now, in a controversial editorial soon to be published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, a group of scientists argues that the complex disease may actually have that surprisingly simple trigger.
They point to a growing body of work that suggests the microbe idea may be worth considering and further studying. The microbes in question may include herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), the ubiquitous virus that causes cold sores.
The burden of proof is formidable, in part because it’s impossible to detect infections like HSV-1 in the brains of living people -- they can only be seen postmortem.
And this notion flies in the face of the long-standing theory that amyloid-beta proteins and tau tangles, both of which build up inside the brains of those with Alzheimer's, are the main drivers of disease-induced cell death.
However -- if researchers could prove the microbe theory, there is a clear path to the day that Alzheimer's could become a preventable illness.