The quest to discover the core mechanism of Alzheimer’s disease continues, and with it, we continue to learn more about this mysterious cognitive degenerative condition. For one, the latest study has found a new link between antiviral drugs senile dementia risks in older patients.
Published in the journal Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience, the study asks a new set of fascinating questions about developing a simple and effective preventive treatment for one of our most debilitating and costly neurological disorders.
According to Alzheimer’s disease expert Professor Ruth Itzhaki, “[Herpes Simplex Virus 1] could account for 50 percent or more of Alzheimer’s disease cases.” The study author has spent more than 25 years investigating the potential link at the University of Manchester, England. During this time, Itzhake has managed to show how cold sores that are caused by HSV1 infection actually do occur more frequently in those who carry the APOE-ε4 gene variant.
She goes on to say, “Our theory is that in carriers [of this gene variant], reactivation is more frequent or more harmful in HSV1-infected brain cells, which as a result accumulate damage that culminates in development of Alzheimer’s.”
What may be most important about this study is that the researchers have identified Taiwan as one of only a few countries in the world to collect population data they can test this HSV1-Alzheimer’s theory. As a matter of fact, 99.9 percent of the Taiwanese population has enrolled in a National Health Insurance Research Database, and it is this data which is being extensively mined for new information on microbial diseases and infections.
In three studies describing Taiwanese data on Alzheimer’s-related senile dementia development, published between 2017 and 2018, researchers found significant evidence that senile dementia risk is higher among those infected with HSV. Furthermore, these studies also seem to intimate that antiviral treatment [for HSV] shows a dramatic decrease in those most severely affected by HSV1 and then go on to develop dementia.
Now, Itzhaki advises these Taiwanese results can only be applied to severe HSV1 infections which are quite rare. Itzhaki continues, “Ideally, we would study dementia rates amongst people who have suffered mild HSV1 infection, including herpes labialis (cold sores) or mild genital herpes, but these are far less likely to be documented.”
But even though they may need to conduct more research, Itzhaki remains confident and enthusiastic about the prospects of this potential treatment.