Several recent studies have backed up a claim that herpes infections can cause cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. There is so much research about it that researchers said it would be safe to assume that the virus could be a cause for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases.
It could still be years before the causal connection between the memory loss diseases and herpes is proven. However, the idea that it’s a possible reason could increase the chances of creating a preventive treatment.
researchers recently published two papers that concluded serious
herpes infections raised a person’s chance of being diagnosed with
dementia. Other Taiwanese researchers carried out another study where
the risk was similar with a different strain of herpes. In the last
study, it showed that dementia developed was prevented in most
patients using anti-herpes medications.
researchers concluded from these studies that herpes might not just
raise a person’s chance of developing dementia but the evidence
suggests it can actually cause the disease.
of Manchester in England Neuroscience Professor Ruth Itzhaki said
while it’s not definitive proof, it seems to be very likely the
it’s not just the studies in Taiwan that are turning heads.
Icahn School of Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai as well as
Arizona State University looked at the brains of people who died with
Alzheimer’s disease. According to their findings, there were
elevated levels of herpes viruses in their brain compared to people
who didn’t have Alzheimer’s.
it’s all speculation.
Association Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach Keith Fargo
said the science is still not conclusive enough to say, without a
doubt, “Yes, herpes is a cause for dementia-related diseases.”
research is needed to prove that an anti-herpes vaccine or treatment
would help in the decline of dementia diagnosis. And, proving the
link and tracking the people who got the vaccine would be difficult
and possibly impossible.
according to Fargo, there are two possible studies in the U.S.
looking to do just that.
are looking for people who they’ve assessed as being at-risk for
having herpes re-appear in their brain and treat them with antivirals
before they were diagnosed with having dementia.
are multiple strains of the herpes virus, and most studies focus on
the HSV 1 and HSV 2 strains. However, the HHV 6A, 6B and 7 are being
considered as a possibility for dementia.
said most people have at least one herpes strain in their body.
The virus is usually contracted when a person is a child but can rear its ugly head as they get older in another way. For instance, the chicken pox virus stays dormant until later in life when it causes some people to suffer from shingles. Fargo said this is what the herpes virus is like as well.
theory goes that the herpes virus could reawaken and inflict its
damage on the brain, potentially causing dementia and other
to Itzhaki, herpes is not the only thing that causes dementia, but
she’s been looking at the link between the virus and the disease
for quite some time.
said she, along with some colleagues, discovered amyloid plaques in
Alzheimer’s patients’ brain that has herpes DNA, but it wasn’t
until now that the theory of it causing dementia caught on. Itzhaki
said it was a battle for people to recognize the possibility but it
seems more people are in agreement to the idea.
more research into the possibility reveal that herpes causes
dementia, it could mean a person could take a drug that would lower
the risk of developing the disease later in life.
to Itzhaki, if the antiviral drugs given during the Taiwanese study
kept the brain safe from the virus, it could work with people who
have a mild case of herpes.