Scientists may have inched closer to an effective method to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, the tragic neurological condition that causes loss of memory and other cognitive functions, generally in older people. A new scientific paper published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease this week says that three recent studies show a link between Alzheimer’s and the virus that causes herpes and suggests a possibly effective way to hold back the onset of the tragic disease.
The Manchester University authors of the paper, which is a commentary on three studies published this year, note that “when the authors looked at patients treated aggressively with antiherpetic medications at the time, the relative risk of (Senile Dementia) was reduced by a factor of 10….Antiherpetic medication prevented later SD development in 90 percent of their study group. These articles provide the first population evidence for a causal link between herpes virus infection and senile dementia.”
The Inquisitr reported on one of the recent studies last month, which examined a large number of brain tissue samples from deceased Alzheimer’s sufferers, as well as from a “control group” of recently deceased individuals who had not been afflicted by Senile Dementia, finding that the Alzheimer’s patients showed evidence of “two incredibly common and closely related herpesviruses that are known to cause childhood rashes and fevers.”
Another recent study by Taiwanese researchers connected the herpes simplex virus type 1, known as HSV1, to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, according to a summary by the site Science Daily. HSV1 differs from the more notorious HSV2, which causes genital herpes. While HSV2 is a sexually transmitted virus, HSV1 is transmitted orally and causes oral herpes, known more commonly as “cold sores,” according to the World Health Organization. HSV1 can also cause genital herpes.
But according to the Manchester University commentary, the Taiwanese study as well as the two previous Alzheimer’s studies showing a link to the herpes virus also show that “aggressive” treatment with anti-viral medications used to reduce the symptoms of herpes also show remarkable results in holding off the attack of Alzheimer’s — and could even lead to development of a vaccine against the disease which could be administered to babies.
“Safe and easily available antivirals may have a strong part to play in combating the disease in (elderly) patients,” said the paper’s co-author Ruth Itzhaki. “It also raises the future possibility of preventing the disease by vaccination against the virus in infancy.”
The Taiwanese study followed 8,362 people for a period of 10 years, according to Medical News Today. Those subjects were over the age of 50 and had all been diagnosed with a herpes virus infection. The researchers also tracked a control group of 25,086 people from the same age group who did not have the HSV diagnosis, over a 10-year period from 2001 to 2010.
The subjects with the herpes virus were two-and-a-half times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s symptoms. But the study’s key finding was that the subjects who were dosed with the antiviral drugs were 10 times less likely to develop the disease than those who did not receive the drug treatments.
“Not only is the magnitude of the antiviral effect remarkable,” said the Manchester paper’s co-author Richard Lathe, “but also the fact that — despite the relatively brief duration and the timing of treatment — in most patients severely affected by HSV1 it appeared to prevent the long-term damage in [the] brain that results in Alzheimer’s.”