What causes Alzheimer’s disease? The answer could be right under our noses, says leading expert Professor Ruth Itzhaki. Her latest paper presents a lifetime of research evidence that the herpes virus responsible for cold sores can also cause Alzheimer’s — and new data which show antiviral drugs drastically reduce risk of senile dementia in patients with severe herpes infections. The review in Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience raises the tantalizing prospect of a simple, effective preventive treatment for one of humanity’s costliest disorders.
The HSV1 theory of Alzheimer’s disease
Herpes viruses are the dreaded ‘gift that keeps on giving’. They remain lifelong in our neurons and immune cells, reactivating and resurfacing in characteristic blisters when we’re run down by stress or illness. Most people are infected by Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1) by the time they reach old age.
But what happens to infected neurons in our brain during this reactivation?