A new study shows that antiviral drugs used to treat the herpes virus may be effective at slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists at The University of Manchester, United Kingdom, have previously shown that the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) is a risk factor for Alzheimer's when it is present in the brains of people who have a specific genetic risk to the disease, according to an article in Medical News Today.
The Manchester team has established that the herpes virus causes accumulation of two key Alzheimer’s disease proteins, β-amyloid (Aβ) and abnormally phosphorylated tau (P-tau), known to be the main components of plaques and tangles. Both proteins are thought by many scientists to be involved in the development of the disease.
According to the article, Professor Ruth Itzhaki, who led the team said, "We have found that the viral DNA in Alzheimer’s disease brains is very specifically located within amyloid plaques. This, together with the production of amyloid that the virus induces, suggests that HSV1 is a cause of toxic amyloid products and of plaques.
"Our results suggest that HSV1, together with the host genetic factor, is a major risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and that antiviral agents might be used for treating patients to slow disease progression,” said Itzhaki in the article. The study is published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) One journal.